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Power Restored To Thousands Of East Bay Residents

BERKELEY (CBS SF) --  Power was restored to 43,000 East Bay residents and businesses Monday after a transformer failure and fire at a PG&E substation in El Cerrito disrupted service to Berkeley, El Cerrito, Richmond and San Pablo.

PG&E official said the customers lost power after the equipment failure at about 9:30 a.m., PG&E officials said. Everyone's power was restored as of about 1 p.m.

The fire started when cables failed inside a new 115,000-volt transformer installed just over the weekend. The 1-inch diameter cables made a loud sound as they failed, prompting some callers to report there had been an explosion, El Cerrito Fire Battalion Chief Michael Pigoni said.

The failure set about 20 hay bales on fire, Pigoni said. The hay bales were set around the transformer as it was installed just in case there was a coolant leak.

Firefighters were at the substation for about two-and-a-half hours, first waiting for the transformer to power down, then taking the hay bales apart to get the fire out.

The area affected by the power outage included the Downtown Berkeley BART station, which closed for about two hours. Trains didn't stop at the station starting at about 9:45 a.m. and service was restored at about 11:45 a.m. when BART crews brought in a massive portal generators, according to BART.

© Copyright 2016 by CBS San Francisco and Bay City News Service. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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