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19 Madison businesses, insurance company sue ATC over substation fire

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MGE substation explosion and fire

MADISON (WKOW) — Nineteen Madison businesses and their insurance provider on Monday filed a lawsuit over the downtown explosion and fire at an electrical substation in July 2019.

The businesses brought their suit against American Transmission Company (ATC) and its insurance provider for failing to properly maintain the Blount Street substation in the lead-up to the blaze.

"ATC was negligent by its acts and omissions leading up to the explosion including, but not limited to, failing to maintain, inspect, repair, and/or keep Blount T4 in good condition," the complaint filed in the lawsuit said, referencing the substation's official name.

In total, Society Insurance, the provider for the businesses named in the suit, says it paid out $138,362.28 in claims. The businesses themselves paid $5,000 in deductibles.

The suit does not explain exactly how the businesses incurred the damages.

The complaint says that ATC's insurance provider should have covered the businesses for their damages as part of its liability protection.

The July 19, 2019 fire knocked out power to tens of thousands for hours beginning shortly before 8 a.m.

A few minutes later, the fire triggered a second blaze at the East Campus substation. The two are linked via underground cables.

The power outages dragged on into the sweltering afternoon. Authorities set up cooling centers to help those who needed shelter from the summer heat.

In October 2019, the company said a component inside the Blount Street substation’s transformer failed. The failure created "combustible gases ... resulting in a fire,” said Jim Vespalec, ATC's director of asset planning and engineering.

The component was designed to regulate voltage and had been inspected, according to the company, three times in the week leading up to the explosion. The last inspection was conducted two days before the July 19 fire.

ATC said the component had been scheduled to be replaced three days after the fire.

The full complaint filed in the lawsuit is HERE and below:

JT Cestkowski

Social Media Content Producer/Desk Editor

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