News / Edmonton

Edmonton Fire rescues woman after she falls into manhole

The manhole cover was blown off in an electrical explosion that left many in downtown Edmonton without power

A downtown electrical explosion shook the ground and sent a woman to the hospital on Wednesday morning.

Kevin Tuong / Edmonton Freelance

A downtown electrical explosion shook the ground and sent a woman to the hospital on Wednesday morning.

Edmonton Fire Service rescued a woman who fell in a manhole after its cover was blown off as a result of an electrical explosion on 98 Avenue and 106 Street Wednesday morning.

Fire service spokesperson Maya Filipovic said the woman was found tangled in electrical wiring 12 feet under.

Filipovic said she was taken to the hospital. It took about 20 minutes for firefighters to use a harness to pull the woman out of the narrow passageway, where she was caught in some high voltage wires.

"There was an electrical vault explosion underground that blew a manhole cover off in that area," Folipovic said. "Once we got there, we discovered that there was an injured civilian down in the vault and we proceeded to do a technical rescue on her. She had fallen about 12 feet into the vault."

Filipovic said the woman was taken to the hospital.

“She was conscious but she had some lower body injuries," she added.

Edmonton Fire Service had received a call about the electrical explosion at 7:30 a.m.

Seven crews with a total of 30 firefighters arrived on scene.

Linda Dunsby is the operations manager at Park Plaza. She was in her office when she heard an explosion that nearly knocked her off her chair.

“It was just a loud bang! Bang! Bang! And then I went to the door and all I could see was black smoke out,” she said. “I thought it was a bomb. I really did.”

She said power in the building has been out since 7:20 a.m and they were told by EPCOR that they would not get it back until late afternoon or at least midnight.

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Other buildings in the area, such as Oxbridge Place, have power back although according to Mia Butorec who works in the building, it “flickers on and off”.

“We weren’t sure when the power would go off and on so we were told not to use the elevators and sometimes the security system that lets you check in with your passcode won't let you in,” she said.

“So there are lights on but it’s sketchy.”

Mansur Bitar, director of distribution and electricity operations for EPCOR, said the company is conducting an internal review because they are not exactly sure what caused the incident.

“There was a faulted cubicle in our system, which is an enclosure that houses high voltage cables," Bitar said.

“The transformer wasn’t impacted. The enclosure behind the voltage cable was,” he added.

He said EPCOR does have a “preventative maintenance and inspections program” that helps them identify when problems like this occur.

“In this case, there were no signs ahead of time and so there was nothing that could have alerted us,” he said.

He said power has been restored to most of the customers in the area however Park Plaza will have an extended outage due to their proximity to the explosion.

He said crews will be working until the end of the day and power will be restored within 24 hours.

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