Police & Fire

Transformer Fire Causes Power Outages Saturday Night

February 24, 2013 at 11:51 AM

WEST CALDWELL, NJ - Saturday night at 7:30pm a transformer fire in West Caldwell caused PSE&G to shut down the power grid; portions of Fairfield and West Caldwell lost power until lights finally came back on by 11pm.

According to Fairfield Police Deputy Chief Anthony Manna, “West Caldwell had a transformer fire at the Essex Valley School (EVS) at Henderson Drive and Clinton Road at approximately 7:30pm. At approximately 9pm, PSE&G shut the power grid down in that area in order to safely fix the original problem. The western part of Fairfield lost power. Power was restored at approximately 11pm.”

Clinton Road and Henderson Drive, West Caldwell.  Credit:Google Maps

We heard reports that portions if not all of the homes on the following streets were without power:

  • Barbara Drive
  • Bel Air Drive
  • Big Piece Road
  • Campbell Road
  • Clinton Road
  • Cole Road
  • Craig Place
  • Fox Hill Road
  • Henning Drive
  • Henrietta Drive
  • Hillside Drive
  • Hollywood  Avenue
  • Horseneck Road
  • Phyllis Lane
  • Plymouth Street
  • Vine Street

Map displaying the wide area of homes affected by the outages. Credit: Google Maps

Reports came into the West Essex TAP Facebook page as early as 7:26pm that there were power issues in West Caldwell. “We just had a quick power outage; it was only out for a minute,” reported Kimberly Ward, who lives near the 7-11 on Bloomfield Avenue. “It went out and then came right back on and then it was immediately followed by the West Caldwell fire alarm.”

Lauren Nunez, who lives on DeBaun Avenue in West Caldwell, reported, "I live near the Fairfield border. I heard the transformer blow by me around 7pm last night near Clinton Road. I saw this very bright light flash, through my window shades and heard a loud noise. Then my power went out and quickly turned back on. About a minute later, I heard sirens going off, racing to the scene. I am unsure if the sirens were from the Police or from the Fire Department. The Police blocked off the area to my street and I saw a lot of smoke coming from the area too.
I made a call while I saw the detour, yesterday at 7:24pm so I can definitely tell you that at that time, part of Clinton Road was closed, right up to DeBaun Avenue in West Caldwell."

Maria Torsiello Notte commented that power on Fox Hill in Fairfield was on and off from 7:30pm to 8:30pm and then out from 8:30pm to 11pm.

About 7:30pm, Mike Cancel on Horseneck Road in Fairfield lost power. Apparently PSE&G was unaware of the problem, “I called PSE&G and they had no idea of a power outages. Said they are sending techs out.”

Later, Cancel decided to go see for himself what the issue was: “I went driving and found that the problem is a power line that is down by the West Caldwell / Fairfield border. The PSE&G workers told me they have to run a line, so a couple hours they told me.”

West Caldwell's Laurie Golden Pacheco was on her way out last night when she could see activity in the sky. ”About 7:30pm, we were going out when we saw big lights flashing like a transformer blew. First, it was bright whitish blue lights in the sky and at first we thought it was lightning, then realized it was not. We saw police cars coming down towards the gardens."

Fairfield's Gina Carola Chirico commented, "I was at Stop & Shop in West Caldwell last night and saw that the stores from Franco’s to Stop & Shop had no power. Only Stop & Shop had lights and was open, all the others were dark."

Lori Scarangella Uhlendorf on Henrietta reported that her power was out from 8:15pm to 11pm. Fairfield’s Tim Mariconda wrote to let us know that his power on Henning went in and out three times starting around 8:45pm and then at 9:05pm, it stayed out until 11pm.

Former Fairfield resident, Diane Doerr Mitchell, now living in Clintonville, West Virginia, explained that on Saturday she lost power at a home in Fairfield. "I called PSE&G around maybe 9:45pm and the recording said they were aware of it and getting people out to fix it. It's always worth it to call. I think most people assume that PSE&G is aware of the problem. Maybe not!"

Carola Chirico stated, "For once, I actually have power; but I told my friends who are without it to call PSE&G. Everyone thinks someone else calls but sometimes, nobody calls."

"I'm more concerned about the sump pump not working than anything else," added Doerr Mitchell. "Within about an hour of no power we had water in the basement. I know that there are other neighbors on their street that have sump pumps; the water table is very high with all the snow melting and the rain yesterday."

By all accounts power was restored to the area by 11pm but PSE&G continued to work on the transformer through the evening.

Golden Pacheco described, "When we returned home about 12:15am or 12:30am, we saw the PSE&G trucks working on Clinton Road.”

"Every couple of months I visit my family who've lived on Henning Drive since 1965. I haven't experienced the total blackness in years!" expressed Doerr Mitchell.

The West Essex area has been plagued by power outages in recent months. TheAlternativePress.com has followed the stories as they’ve occured:

Residents are reminded, in the case of a power outage, to alert PSE&G to their outage location. Call them and also report the address online so that it "pings" the computer system. To report online, you must be registered online first with their website.

PHONE:  800-436-PSEG (7734)



From day one during Hurricane Sandy, the West Essex TAP Facebook page has been an outstanding source for comments from area residents. During the storm, neighbors provided to each other power updates and gas station openings and prices around the clock and today continue to be a great source of instant information. To participate, sign up for an account with Facebook, and then send a friend request to the TAP page by clicking on the Add Friend button to the right of their name.

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