WILKES-BARRE — More than 2,100 people were without electrical power in Wilkes-Barre for approximately 45 minutes Tuesday morning, including many in the downtown area, after the grid was shut down during repairs to a ruptured gas line.
Wilkes-Barre Fire Department Assistant Chief Ed Snarski said there were no injuries when a 2-inch natural gas line was ruptured by a construction crew working in the Interfaith Heights apartment complex on Coal Street around 9:40 a.m.
“Somehow or another, PPL was contacted and they were asked to drop the grid,” Snarski said.
PPL spokesman Kurt Blumenau said the shut-off request was made by UGI.
“We turned off power shortly before 10 a.m., and all affected customers were back in service about 45 minutes later,” said Blumenau.
The outage affected approximately 2,145 PPL customers, according to Blumenau.
UGI spokesman Joe Swope confirmed the company requested that electrical service be shut down.
Swope said a UGI field employee was dispatched to a report of “blowing gas” from a line ruptured by a third-party contractor. The employee, who arrived at the site at 9:43 a.m., asked for additional support due to the amount of blowing gas and that the electrical power be cut. UGI shut off natural gas to the area as well, Swope said.
At least nine of the apartment buildings in the complex were evacuated, said Swope. The residents were allowed to return when electrical power was restored, he noted.
UGI was in the process of repairing the damaged line, Swope said.
The outage affected the downtown where people were stuck in high-rise elevators at apartment buildings and traffic lights went out.
Luzerne County’s Penn Place building at the intersection of North Pennsylvania Avenue and East Market Street was closed until 1:30 p.m., according to a sign on a door. County employees said the reason was the elevators were inoperable due to the temporary power outage. The building houses courtrooms, probation services and other county departments.