MESA, AZ - Crews have restored power for thousands of East Valley residents after a transformer explosion at a Salt River Project facility in Mesa Thursday.
SRP spokesman Scott Harelson confirmed the outage affecting customers in east Mesa and Apache Junction was repaired around 11:40 p.m.
The issue left more than 80,000 residents without air conditioning for several hours Thursday as temperatures hovered above 100 degrees.
"It has been hotter, but this is definitely hot enough to cause distress," said Jim Riedel, who lost power around 2:30 p.m. "If I get home and it is still out I'll load up the pets and go some place where I know there is power."
Officials told ABC15 the Mesa Convention Center was being used as an evacuation and cool-down site for those impacted by the outages. The site was being staffed by City of Mesa and American Red Cross personnel.
SRP also activated its "bagged ice plan" for customers who are without power as a result of the transformer fire. Ice was delivered to several Fry's locations Thursday, and will also be available beginning at 5 a.m. Friday at Recker and McKellips roads, and Ellsworth and Broadway roads.
The loss of power came after the fire, as SRP shifted the power supply to other transformers in the area. The overload ended up tripping the system, causing the outages.
Mesa police urged drivers in the area to be cautious, as the outages affected traffic signals in different parts of the city.
According to Air15, control tower services for Mesa's Falcon Field were also shut down for several hours because power was out at the airport.
The fire sent a thick plume of black smoke into the sky Thursday afternoon, and forced employees from the East Mesa Service Center near University Drive and Sossaman Road, according to fire department spokesman Forrest Smith.
Power was shut off to nearby transformers and a truck arrived at the scene and began spraying foam onto the flames just before 1:25 p.m.
The fire itself burned for about an hour and a half Thursday afternoon. The blaze was a challenge for fire officials as they had to deal with the fire, that was electrical, and also fueled by mineral oil, which is used to cool the transformers. The oil, however, can also be a fast burning fuel in a fire and is credited with creating the large plume of black smoke.
Fire officials said the smoke did not pose any health concerns nor are there any lingering health or air quality dangers because of the fire.
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