Center City Apartments Evacuated After Underground Fire

Oakwood Apartments evacuated due to a smell of smoke from electrical fire

By Dan Stamm
|  Wednesday, Jan 2, 2013  |  Updated 12:20 PM EDT
View Comments (
)
|
Email
|
Print
NBC10's Jesse Gary reports that crews have yet to determine what caused an underground fire that cut power to a Center City apartment building.

NBC10.com - Jesse Gary

NBC10's Jesse Gary reports that crews have yet to determine what caused an underground fire that cut power to a Center City apartment building.

advertisement
Photos and Videos

Underground Fire, Smoke Causes Center City Apartment Evacuation

NBC10's Jesse Gary explains how two separate incidents, an overnight gas leak and early morning underground electrical fire had streets in Center City closed and residents evacuated from an apartment building at 16th and Sansom Streets.

Gas Leak Stopped as Closures, Evacuations Continue

It was a sleepless morning in Center City Wednesday as the Oakwood Apartments at 16th and Sansom Streets were evacuated for a gas leak. The leak was fixed but the road closures and evacuations continued. NBC10's Jesse Gary reports.
More Photos and Videos

Residents had to evacuate a Center City apartment building early Wednesday due to smoke from an underground electrical fire as nearby roads were blocked off during the investigation.

An overnight gas leak in the area, unrelated to the fire, complicated the situation.

The Oakwood Apartments at 16th and Sansom Streets were evacuated around 3:30 a.m. after smoke got into the ducts after an apparent underground cable fire, firefighters said.

Philadelphia Gas Works spokesman Barry O'Sullivan says crews were looking into the reported gas leak when they had to stop because of problem with a PECO transformer. He said there was no risk from the leak.

"We tested the quality of the air and found it to be a benign situation where there was no gas leak and not enough gas in the particular area to cause any danger," Philadelphia Fire Department Lt. Bernard Gilliam said.

Thirty-seven residents were allowed back in their homes briefly only to be evacuated again. The building has a generator but it only supplies enough power to keep the lobby lit and elevators moving.

Some residents were placed at the nearby Shops at Liberty Place or rode out the evacuation in their cars. Around 10 evacuees were taken to the nearby Greenfield Elementary School later in the morning.

No one was hurt.

As of 5 a.m., PECO crews were still trying to pinpoint the location of the smoke but seemed to be focused on an underground transformer that was possibly on fire.

At one point up to 764 customers were without power, by 11 a.m. 12 still didn't have power.

By 5:30 a.m., PGW crews stopped the gas leak, PECO and firefighters contained the underground fire and crews began to pull back. No cause was immediately given on what caused the incidents.

Street closures continued through the morning at the intersection of 16th and Sansom. At one point, Sansom was closed at 15th Street, 15th was closed from Chestnut to Walnut Streets and 16th Street was closed between Locust and Sansom Streets.

The roads remained closed as of 11 a.m. as crews tried to figure out what caused the blaze.

 


Get the latest from NBC10 Philadelphia anytime: Android/iPhone/iPad Apps | SMS Alerts | Twitter | Facebook | Google+ | Instagram | RSS

Get the latest headlines sent to your inbox!
View Comments (
)
|
Email
|
Print
Leave Comments
What's New
FlyeredUp: Win 2 Tickets to Flyers Playoff Game
Win two tickets to the first 2014... Read more
Follow Us
Sign up to receive news and updates that matter to you.
Send Us Your Story Tips
Check Out