A fire at a Pacific Gas and Electric Co. substation in downtown Colusa resulted in law enforcement evacuating surrounding blocks of homes and customers losing power for several hours late Sunday night and into early Monday morning.
The Colusa Fire Department was called to the substation along Main Street between First and Second streets around 10:30 p.m. Sunday after heavy smoke was seen coming from the facility.
The smoke turned into flame, and then a few minutes later, a big plume of burning oil shot fire and smoke up into the air from the facility, as seen on video recorded by bystanders.
“The fire was all contained to that substation, so there was no damage to surrounding structures, but we decided to evacuate all the residents to the north and then residents just east of the substation until the fire died down and we were sure it didn’t pose any danger to those homes,” said David Avera, an engineer with the Colusa Fire Department.
While the fire died down, the fire department, along with the Colusa Police Department and the Sacramento River Fire Protection District, remained in the area to protect structures and ensure it was completely contained, as there was some residual oil on the ground burning off. No injuries were reported and the evacuation was lifted around 11:30 p.m.
Avera said his department is unsure what caused the fire. Once PGE was alerted to the fire and had representatives on scene, it was turned over to the utility company.
“We are conducting an investigation to determine the cause of the outage and extent of damage to the substation bank,” said Paul Moreno, a public information officer with PGE.
Moreno said a substation bank distributes power from the substation and out to distribution circuits that serve customers. Because of the incident, power went out to about 4,100 customers in Colusa from about 10:40 p.m. on Sunday to about 5:30 a.m. on Monday.
“We were able to restore power after disconnecting the damaged substation bank and then restore power to customers from another substation bank,” Moreno said.