Stroudsburg, Monroe County – Thursday morning, a specially trained environmental cleanup team cleared oil and debris from the site of a MetEd transformer fire.
The fire on Godfrey Ridge Road in Stroudsburg caused problems for thousands of people in the Poconos. A MetEd spokesperson said the problem started about 3:40 Wednesdsay afternoon. A transformer lost power. By 5 p.m. that transformer was on fire.
It was too dangerous for firefighters to approach the substation that was operating with tens of thousands of volts. "In order to put the fire out safely we had to shut the substation power down,” said Monroe County Emergency Management Director Guy Miller.
With the station shut down, about 8,000 customers lost power. Traffic lights in Stroudsburg and East Stroudsburg went dark. Arthur Martin is a taxi driver who was near the WalMart plaza in East Stroudsburg when the lights went out. He said, "People were trying to get out this way and trying come down this way. It was a real mess."
He said the traffic situation improved when borough workers put stop signs up near that busy shopping plaza. Stroud Area Regional Police Captain Brian Kimmins said, "We found that works fairly well, people do self regulate there."
Once the fire was out, MetEd gradually restored power to customers. Miller noted, "It causes a tremendous load on the winter time right now. You just can't slam that thing closed. They had to gradually bring people back up to power."
Emergency responders told Eyewitness News their training worked, the response went well, and no one was hurt. Miller said, "The cooperation from the MetEd folks was fantastic and it actually was a textbook response."
MetEd is still investigating to find out what caused the transformer failure and fire.