Downtown Phoenix Light Rail Stations Reopen After APS Electrical Fire

By Jimmy Jenkins, Steve Goldstein, Holliday Moore, Bridget Dowd
Published: Monday, July 1, 2019 - 8:08am
Updated: Monday, July 1, 2019 - 10:50pm

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street closed downtown
Justin Stabley/KJZZ
Part of downtown Phoenix was closed on July 1, 2019, after a fatal fire at an underground APS power vault.

All downtown Phoenix light rail stations have re-opened after an electrical fire in an underground APS power vault forced closures into Monday afternoon, according to Valley Metro spokeswoman Susan Tierney.

APS says the accident killed one worker and injured another.

The fire is being investigated and will affect buildings and light rail transportation on Monday morning. Police officers told KJZZ that they expect the closures to last all day.

Large crews of security and APS personnel worked to to extract the body of the APS worker Monday morning.

Suzanne Trevino with APS says the two men were working when the fire ignited.

“They were working in downtown Phoenix in an underground vault that houses electrical equipment. The underground equipment involved serves downtown facilities and venues, some of which are without power today until the area can be deemed safe and repairs can be completed," said Trevino.

The electrical fire broke out in a vault near Valley Metro’s First Avenue and Washington Street light rail station, forcing closures at three other stations just after 10:30 p.m. Sunday.

Light rail stations were closed at First Avenue and Van Buren, First Avenue and Jefferson, Third Avenue and Jefferson and Central and Washington before reopening Monday afternoon.

Vehicle traffic was also being diverted away from the area.

APS says intermittent power outages are expected in some buildings along the downtown corridor. As of 8 a.m. Monday morning, Wells Fargo, Phoenix Municpal, Maricopa County’s administrative offices and Phoenix Civic Plaza south were  without power. Trevino says there are several other buildings with partial power, including the the Sheraton Phoenix Downtown hotel.

Matt Hamada, spokesman for the city of Phoenix, says that while many buildings and streets remain closed, city services remain open.

“City Hall is open and our services inside our building remain available to the public. Our municipal building, which is known as a Calvin Goode building, that is closed because of the power incident. And so those employees have found alternate ways to do their work, or they're being told also to stay at home," said Hamada.

A Maricopa County Superior Court spokesperson said the Court will not hold any hearings or trials Monday due to the power outages. 

Phoenix Fire Captain Rob McDade says the type of fire that was caused by an explosion had to be extinguished with powder instead of water.

“APS was worried that that electrical vault was still energized and you open up a hose line on that you’re going to injure or kill firemen on that scene," McDade said,

street closed downtown
Justin Stabley/KJZZ
Part of downtown Phoenix was closed on July 1, 2019, after a fatal fire at an underground APS power vault.

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