Power Restored To Majority Of Downtown SF
by Laura Monteverdi, Reporter
January 26, 2013 6:31 PM
An underground explosion that ignited a fire early Friday morning left much of downtown Sioux Falls in disarray.
Initially 500 Xcel Energy customers were left without power. By Friday night, 200 customers still had no power. Saturday afternoon, officials reported that they had restored power to about 95 percent of their customers, leaving fewer than a dozen customers, all businesses in downtown, in the dark.
Barricades continue to the line the streets and several businesses remain closed along a stretch of Phillips Avenue where crews continue to work around the clock to get the remainder of the power restored.
“Everything these guys are doing out here they are thinking about it, having meetings before they go down in the manhole. Safety is the first thing we do," said Jim Wilcox, Principle Manager at Xcel Energy South Dakota.
Since the explosion, crews from Xcel have been working in 16-hour shifts, digging up equipment that was destroyed in the fire and connecting underground cables.
“About 2/3 of the guys are from Sioux Falls, but we also have guys from Minnesota and some of those guys have some special skills in working with underground splicing of wires,” explained Wilcox.
A total of 26-crew members work at a time in and out of five separate manholes in the area of 9th Street and Phillips Avenue. Power has been restored to most of their customers, and as for the rest, it shouldn't be much longer.
“We're expecting this work should be completed Sunday by 7 A.M. and that's our current estimated time," said Wilcox.
Until then, the city is making sure those without power, have somewhere to turn.
“The shelter is still set up. It's available if anybody wants to use it and it will be available throughout the power outage," said Regan Smith, Emergency Manager for Sioux Falls.
Officials from Xcel Energy said that you can now use generators, but warn you not to use grills, ovens or any other unconventional means to heat your home.
The cause of the explosion is still unknown.