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UPDATE: Investigation continues into cause of Madison substation explosion and fires

MGE substation fire and explosion July 19, 2019 in Madison.
MGE substation fire and explosion July 19, 2019 in Madison.

MADISON (WKOW) — MG&E continues to investigate the explosion and fires at two electric substations Friday that cut power to much of downtown Madison.

A spokesperson early Monday afternoon said there were no new reports.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued a statement early Monday afternoon that they are not investigating.

“OSHA is not investigating the substation incident, as there (were) no employees at the site and no injuries,” a spokesperson said in a statement.

The first explosion and fire was reported about 7:40 a.m. at the Blount Street substation located at 722 E. Main St. operated by MG&E and American Transmission Co.

A second fire was reported about 8 a.m. at an ATC substation near the Kohl Center on the UW-Madison campus.

MG&E CEO Jeff Keebler says there were no injuries from the fires. No one was working in the area of the substation when the explosion happened. Damage assessments are underway.

Keebler said the fires at the two substations are connected.

The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 2304 represents most of the field workers at MGE.

“Safety and reliability has always been a top priority of ours. MGE and IBEW Local 2304 continue to work together to ensure we’re working as safely as we can every day,” local President Nate Rasmussen said in a statement. “Our members did a remarkable job restoring power as quickly as we did, given the catastrophic events that occurred in the substations.”

Madison Fire Chief Steve Davis says 40 firefighters responded to the scene and it took them about 30 minutes to shut down the system and put the fire out.

Power was out in much of downtown Madison, and Gov. Tony Evers declared a state of emergency and to close government buildings for the remainder of Friday.

It took until Saturday morning to restore power to all customers.

The power outage took place during a stretch of oppressive heat, and Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway ordered the Alliant Energy Center to open as a cooling center. The Kohl Center on the UW-Madison campus also served as a cooling center.

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