Electrical Fire Causes Multi-Day Power Outage for Downtown Arizona Businesses

July 08, 2019

By Erik Linask - Group Editorial Director

An electrical fire in an underground power vault shut down light rail service and power to several surrounding buildings in downtown Phoenix last week.  The fire broke out last Sunday evening during routine maintenance, killing one Arizona Public Service worker and injuring another. 

The underground vault houses electrical equipment that serves several buildings in downtown Phoenix.  Those impacted by the power outage included:  Wells Fargo (News - Alert), the Phoenix Municipal Building, the Maricopa County Administration Building, and Phoenix Civic Plaza South.  In addition, other buildings, including the Sheraton Phoenix Downtown, experienced partial outages.

While APS worked to restore power, large generators had to be brought in to support its business and government customers.   However, it wasn’t until Friday morning that two large units were in place to deliver power to the Wells Fargo building while APS crews continued to repair the damage from the fire almost a week earlier.

All the light rail stations that were shut down because of the fire were back in operation by Monday evening.

Nearly a week without power can spell disaster for any businesses, even if the outage falls during a holiday week.  But, all power outages – whether they last an hour or a week – represent risks for businesses and the technology on which they depend for their operations. 

Outages are often accompanied by voltage fluctuations, both when they occur and when power is restored.  These fluctuations can easily damage the circuitry in hardware – anything from servers and switches to firewalls and communications systems – taking them offline and requiring costly repairs.  Add to that the fact that repair technicians and replacement hardware may not be immediately available, and you could be looking at days or weeks of additional downtime beyond a power outage.

The way to avoid that kind of risk, which could ruin your business, is simple:  Install a power protection system that not only insulates your technology from dirty power, but also provides backup runtime to allow systems to be shut down properly when outages occur.  That will ensure your systems will be functioning normally once power is restored and will protect against data loss that can happen when systems suddenly lose power while they’re operating.

Edited by Erik Linask