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Transformer fire disrupts power on McDonough Square

By Jason A. Smith

jsmith@henryherald.com

A mechanical failure is being blamed for a transformer fire, which knocked out power to businesses on The McDonough Square Friday.

The fire occurred at approximately 10:19 a.m., near the intersection of Griffin and Sloan streets, according to Firefighter Robert Wright of the McDonough Fire Department.

"We received a call about a transformer fire," said Wright. "Upon arrival, we ... could see a nice, pretty, blue flame coming out of the top of the transformer. We made sure no bystanders came near the transformer, in case any wires fell."

The fire department, continued Wright, notified Georgia Power, which maintains the electrical device.

"Georgia Power arrived and went up in a bucket and disconnected the power," said Wright. "[A power company worker] came back down and said it was just a jumper wire, and that he could have it back up and running. He went back up to try to replace the jumper wire and advised that he could not get it. With the jumper wire hooked into the transformer, it was already welded together, so he was going to have to call and get a new transformer."

Power was cut off for 18 customers in the area for approximately two hours, according to Georgia Power Spokesman Jeff Wilson.

"It was due to a mechanical failure in the transformer," Wilson said.

Wayne Gray, the owner of Optical Workshop at 39 Griffin Street, which is located directly across from the transformer, said he discovered a problem with power at his store when he saw a light "flickering" inside the building.

"I have a pretty expensive laser welding machine, and I noticed it was going in and out and burning up," said Gray, 43. "I came out and I saw the [transformer burning on top, so I went and turned [the laser machine] off."

Gray said Friday's episode marked the second time a transformer has caught on fire outside his business, since he opened it two years ago. He said he was considering seeking compensation for the revenue the power disruption cost him.

"Last year about this time, the same transformer went out," he continued. "So, it's either, they are putting up bad parts, or the grid cannot handle it. I don't know. They need to do something about that."

Other businesses with power interruptions included Chevy's Diner and Pasta Max Cafe. Power was restored to the area shortly before 2 p.m., Friday, according to Gray.