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TTEC fire triggers blackout in West Trinidad

By Sasha Harrinanan Thursday, January 23 2014

click on pic to zoom in
Fire fight: Fire officers battle a blaze at the TT Westmoorings substation which triggered a blackout in west Trinidad last evening....
Fire fight: Fire officers battle a blaze at the TT Westmoorings substation which triggered a blackout in west Trinidad last evening....

A fire at the Westmoorings substation of the Trinidad and Tobago Electricity Commission (TTEC) yesterday evening left thousands of persons in Diego Martin, Westmoorings, Glencoe, Petit Valley and parts of Powder Magazine, Cocorite without power up till press time.

TTEC officials on the scene told Newsday the fire started at transformer number one within the substation at about 6 pm.

Persons living in the area reported hearing a loud explosion and seeing a ball of fire and black smoke emanating from the substation, which is located opposite The Falls of West Mall.

TTEC said someone at the mall observed the flames coming from the substation and reported it to them. Half-an-hour after, TTEC shut off power to the substation but it was not until 7 pm that they got confirmation the substation was ‘dead’, meaning no power was going to or coming out of it.

This meant it was now safe for fire officers to start combatting the flames. Four tenders responded to the fire, three from headquarters on Wrightson Road, Port-of-Spain and one from the Four Roads Fire Station. The officers used foam to extinguish the flames because the fire was oil-based. It took the fire officers roughly 20 minutes to extinguish the fire. Prior to that, bright orange flames and white smoke were observed emanating from transformer number one. The smoke was being blown towards Diego Martin.

During this time, a helicopter belonging to the National Operations Centre (NOC) was seen circling the substation while at about 7.30 pm, an official from the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Management (ODPM) arrived on the scene. TTEC’s Corporate Communications Manager, Annabelle Brasnell, issued a statement last evening indicating the commission “was working to restore the electricity supply to customers in west Trinidad.”

She also said TTEC had implemented “contingency plans” and was re-routing power to affected areas, which included Diego Martin, Shorelands, Carenage and the islands. Customers were told to expect “varying restoration times, from 9 pm to midnight.”

“The cause of the fire on Number One 66/32kV Transformer is unknown at this time. TTEC is collaborating with the relevant State agencies to return to normalcy in the shortest possible time,” Brasnell stated.

In a television interview last evening, head of the NOC, Garvin Heera said they had the support of all the agencies including the regional corporation, the ODPM and the law enforcement agencies and they had the situation under control.

He said the Police Service deployed the Rapid Response Unit and they also had the support of officers of the Western Division. There was also air support from the Air Guard and NOC.

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