Power was fully restored in Linda Mar late this morning after a transformer at a PG&E substation failed and caught fire.
At 6:51a.m. this morning, residents woke up to billowing smoke and a stringent burning electrical smell emitting from the substation, located at the base of Valencia Way just off Crespi.
Carol Berman, a Valencia Way resident, said smoke was filling her house.
"I woke up and thought it may be my house on fire so I gathered up these two (referring to her black and yellow labs) and headed out the door,” she said.
Berman lives directly next door to the power substation.
By seven o’clock there were four fire companies and officers on scene. As a safety precaution, they closed off Valencia Way between Granada Drive and La Mirada Drive. Because of the high voltage coursing through the substation, fire crews didn’t go into the substation and waited for PG&E representatives to arrive to mitigate the incident. They came an alarming half hour later.
“It was a little scary until PG&E got there," said Barbara Huselbus, a lifetime Pacifica resident. With the memory of the San Bruno fire still lingering, the scene was a bit tense for a while.
PG&E crews quickly assessed the situation. One of the two main transformers located inside the substation control room had failed.
“The transformers are encapsulated in resin and when they fail, they heat up and the resin melts, putting off a fowl smell,” said a PG&E representative.
The failure didn’t trip an immediate power outage. PG&E and the fire department played it safe and shut down the substation, causing the outage for about 50 customers, until they could shift power and repair the damaged transformer, said Matt Lucett with North County Fire. Power was restored at about 11a.m.
On Sept. 29, PG&E reported that the power outage actually impacted about 4,422 customers in Pacifica and surrounding areas.
There was no definitive word yet on what triggered the problem but power outages were felt as far away as Montara.
The public was not in any danger, said a PG&E representative, but a PG&E worker told a firefighter it could have been a lot worse.