VIRGINIA

Reston underground fire leaves some without power

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Crews are still working to restore power to a Reston apartment complex affected by an underground explosion and fire.

(Photo: Jummy Olabanji/ABC7)
(Photo: Jummy Olabanji)

Dominion Power had hoped to have the power restored by 6 a.m. Thursday, but crews founds additional damage while working underground, officials say.

As a result, the will need to replace the entire underground cable that provides power to the Winterthur Apartments building. Dominion hopes to have power fully restored by noon.

Dozens of families experienced a frightening sequence of events Wednesday night.

Flames were seen coming from the ground Wednesday afternoon.

" I hear a boom, just like a boom and then we go outside of the apartments and we see the fire," resident Jorge Barbar recalled.

The electrical explosion happened around 3:30 p.m. Residents of the complex ran outside only to find something that scared them even more than the blast. 

Barbar said, "I think everything was going to explode. I see the people screaming."

Firefighters quickly realized the source of the flames was an underground power line that runs from a transformer to the apartments.

Alex Bruce, another Winterthur resident, added, "It was crazy. I was running out of the room. I had no shoes on."

After crews cut off the power, the underground line continued to smolder for hours, turning a patch of grass into what looks like charred rock.

Meanwhile, a cloud of acrid, stinging smoke blanketed the complex. Residents left without power either packed up or hunkered down to figure out what to do next.

"Maybe go to my sister's house, no power," resident Evelyn Carias pondered.

Once the ground cooled to a point where crews could get to the the source of the fire, the arduous task of repairing the electric cable commenced.

Dominion Power spokesperson Leha Anderson says they have a "whole contingent of crews working to get the lights back on." He says Dominion is also working with the building's management to resolve some customer issues.

Officials have not determined what exactly caused the explosion.

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