Thousands without power after Detroit substation fire

Mark Hicks
The Detroit News

A fire at a DTE Energy substation on Detroit’s east side led to several thousand outages in that area Friday night, utility officials said.

A passerby called 911 at about 6:20 p.m. to report a blaze and heavy black smoke “seeping from the roof” at the facility in the 4900 block of Conner, said David Fornell, the city’s deputy fire commissioner.

Detroit fire crews rushed to the scene — near a Popeyes restaurant — and found electrical components in flames inside, he said. At one point, the danger forced about 25 fire personnel out of the building.

Electricity was cut as firefighters worked to extinguish the blaze, Fornell said. They succeeded within two hours.

No injuries were reported, and the fire did not spread to surrounding structures. Meanwhile, as many as 7,000 customers lost power, said Stephen Tait, a DTE spokesman.

“We’ve been able to restore some customers and are starting to restore some others as well,” he said, adding crews are working around the clock.

The DTE Energy website showed the outages are confined to clusters east of Gratiot, mostly between Interstate 94 and Jefferson Avenue.

All of the affected customers are expected to have power restored by 6 a.m. Saturday, Tait said.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.