Underground transformer explodes in downtown, closes streets


by Johnny Archer


Posted on March 23, 2013 at 11:12 AM

Updated Saturday, Mar 23 at 8:41 PM


LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) – Black smoke seeped from the ground in downtown Louisville Saturday after four explosions at 7th and Jefferson Streets.

The blasts threw manhole covers and chunks of pavement into the sky.

Kristin Birkhold was sitting at a stop light in her car when one explosion happened about 10 yards in front of her.
“It was startling,” Birkhold said. “It was not something I was expecting because it looked like a planned explosion. I was confused as to why I could get that close to the manhole. I was just thankful that it did not shoot up my way.”
Emergency crews closed off several streets around the site of the explosions. A Louisville Gas and Electric spokesperson says they had to evacuate Metro police headquarters, which sits at the corner.
LG & E officials say an underground fire caused pressure to built up that led to the explosions just after 7:00 a.m. Officials do not know the cause of the fire, but think it could have been an electrical problem with a transformer.
“We could actually see the smoke coming up out of the street prior to the third explosion and then again on the fourth explosion,” Lt. Col. Glenn Nally, with the Louisville Fire Department said. “They probably happened within a 200 foot range on 7th Street.”
There were no reported injuries and officials are thankful the explosions did not happen on a weekday when the intersection would normally be packed with people and cars.
LMPD headquarters had to run on a backup generator, but LG & E did not have to shut off power to any other surrounding buildings.
Officials expect to reopen the roads around 7th and Jefferson before Monday morning.