Eaton Center evacuated after transformer fire

NORWICH – An minor explosion and fire took place in The Eaton Center’s basement Thursday morning at around 9:50.

Chenango County Fire Coordinator Matthew L. Beckwith reported that crews were called after a report that the transformer in the building’s basement exploded and caught fire. The office building’s fire alarms activated and all employees were evacuated to the nearby Morrisville State College Norwich Campus. No injuries were reported.

Norwich Fire Chief Tracy Chawgo said plumbers hired by the center were working in the area of the transformer, which he described as “an electrical generator the size of a fire truck,” when the accident occurred.

He said one of the plumber’s tools, a plumbing snake, was discovered inside the transformer. Chawgo said the metal device caused an electrical arc to shoot from the 48,000 volt transformer followed by a burst of flame.

The building was closed for several hours and the power cut off as emergency crews worked to clear fumes and perform safety checks.

The building was put back into service at around 11 a.m. and power was restored with aid from NYSEG. Chawgo said damage to the facility was minimal and that the equipment appeared to be functioning normally.

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