Questions Linger Following PG&E Fire

Pacific Gas and Electric Co. crews remained at the scene of Friday's underground electrical fire in San Francisco, removing damaged  equipment as the investigation into the cause continued.
The fire, which temporarily knocked out power to some 8,600 PG&E customers, began at about 11:30 a.m. Friday in the area of PG&E electrical equipment below Polk and O'Farrell streets.

Power wasn't fully restored until Saturday evening.

PG&E spokeswoman Jennifer Zerwer said Monday crews have been working "around the clock" to fix damaged cables and figure out what went wrong.

"Right now we're in the process of removing the damaged equipment and replacing it," Zerwer said. She did not have an estimate on when the repairs would be completed or when the cause would be determined.

"We're conducting a very thorough investigation," she said.

The underground blaze, which burned for hours, filled the neighborhood with black smoke. A column of fire shot out of a manhole at Polk and O'Farrell streets for nearly two hours.

Fire crews initially used CO2 to contain the fire, but in the end simply let it burn.

No injuries were reported.

Several blocks remained closed through Monday to vehicle and pedestrian traffic, though residents and business owners were allowed in, Zerwer said.  O'Farrell Street was closed between Van Ness Avenue and Larkin Street, and  Polk Street was closed between Geary and Ellis streets.

The San Francisco Municipal Railway's 19 and 38 bus lines are being rerouted around the area, a Muni spokesman said.

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