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1,000 ComEd Customers Lose Power After Utility Fire

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(AP File Photo)

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SKOKIE, Ill. (STMW) – Morning storms caused quite a headache for firefighters, utilities crews and some residents Saturday in north suburban Skokie.

The Skokie Fire Department received a call about 11 a.m. for a downed power line in the 5100 block of Crain Street, Skokie Fire Capt. Ron Moritz said, but things quickly escalated when a spark from the downed wire ignited an underground gas main.

Moritz said the fire rose above the ground near the intersection of Laramie Avenue and Crain Street, and firefighters had to keep nearby trees and utility poles from catching fire as Nicor Gas located and dug up the leaking gas line.

Nicor Gas spokesman Richard Caragol said he’s unsure what caused the leak, but that Nicor crews arrived about 12:25 p.m. to locate and cut the line. Once they found it, the main fire went out, but firefighters had to continued to put out a fire on a nearby utility pole, finally quelling the flames at about 4:15 p.m., Moritz said.

Caragol said four residences were evacuated as a precautionary measure.

ComEd Spokeswoman Martha Swaney said in addition to the downed wire, responding electrical workers had problems with a nearby transformer, though she did not know the exact nature of the issue. Power had to be cut to about 1,000 customers while they repaired the transformer, and as of about 5 p.m. 100 customers were still without power as they continued to make repairs.

Both ComEd and Nicor crews remained on scene Saturday evening, and Swaney estimated that power would be up for those remaining customers shortly. Caragol did not have an estimate for when gas would be turned back on.

Moritz said other services affected by the fire, such as cable television, would be back up soon.

“Eveybody’s working on it,” he said. “It’s just the nature of the beast.”

© Sun-Times Media Wire Chicago Sun-Times 2011. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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