Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Pse&g Blast, Fire Rattle Waldwick

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Pse&g Blast, Fire Rattle Waldwick

Article excerpt

WALDWICK -- An explosion at a PSE&G substation Sunday morning, which billowed black smoke that could be seen from miles away, left just under 2,000 customers in a handful of Bergen County towns without power for several hours.

Authorities evacuated residents on neighboring streets following the explosion and fire at the Hopper Avenue PSE&G facility, said Waldwick Mayor Tom Giordano, and several families were staying at the borough ambulance corps building until they were permitted to return to their homes. The mayor, who is also president of the borough Fire Department, was at the scene.

Shortly after 8 p.m., the fire was declared under control, and firefighters were withdrawn from the scene, Giordano said. However, he added, "We left a few hoses in place, so just in case something starts up again, we'll be all set."

Residents who had been evacuated from their homes were permitted to return, Giordano said. The mayor said the clouds of black smoke were caused by mineral oil, a non-toxic fluid that is used as a coolant for generators, transformers and other electrical equipment.

An Allendale firefighter was injured when a supply line burst, striking his leg, Giordano said. The firefighter was taken to The Valley Hospital in Ridgewood to have his swollen ankle treated. The explosion took place around 10:30 a.m. There were no other injuries, Giordano said.

As a result of the fire, there was a very brief power outage, lasting about a minute, in areas of Westwood, Hillsdale, Woodcliff Lake, Saddle River, Washington Township, Old Tappan and River Vale affecting about 16,000 people, said Karen Vossen, a PSE&G spokeswoman. But parts of Hillsdale, Westwood and Woodcliff Lake remained without electricity longer, leaving just under 2,000 customers without power until 1:12 p.m., Vossen said.

The fire was the result of an equipment failure, Vossen said, and it took place in a substation reactor, a piece of gear that relays information between Public Service Electric and Gas and ConEd. The incident is under investigation, she added.

Sue Ritondale, 51, lives behind the substation and was in her house when she heard an explosion. …

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