Transformer fire causes widespread blackout in Teaneck

A transformer fire left almost 5,000 Teaneck residents without power during a downpour Wednesday, though the cause of the fire and its relation to the storm were not confirmed by the following afternoon, when power had been restored to much of the township.

Police released a reverse 911 alert about the blown transformer shortly before 3 p.m., and PSE&G listed 4,734 customers without service an hour later. But throughout the night, the number of outages continued to rise and fall dramatically from a few hundred to over 1,000 and back down to 169 by 10 p.m.

By 6:30 a.m. Thursday, the issue had been resolved for most customers, with only a few residents and businesses still experiencing disruptions into the afternoon, said Rebecca Mazzarella, a spokesperson for the utility, who added that crews were still investigating what caused the fire.

But more than 24 hours later, the outage continued to plague the Bergen township, with police stating PSE&G discovered "extensive damage" to its infrastructure that were "much worse than originally thought," the department announced Thursday night.

As a result of continued work at the site of the fire, the traffic pattern on Cedar Lane between Elm Avenue and Windsor Road would remain in place until all work is completed, which the department estimated could take as long as seven days.

When the initial fire erupted on Wednesday, an officer was near the substation at Palisade Avenue and Colonial Court but did not see what preceded the outbreak of flames, acting Police Chief Andrew McGurr said as evening fell over the darkened township.

The blackout appeared confined to Teaneck's northeast corner, McGurr said, affecting homes and businesses east of Palisade Avenue and north of Cedar Lane.

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The Fire Department brought the fire under control shortly before 4:45 p.m., allowing PSE&G to assess the damage.

"They initially said 10 o'clock is what they're shooting for," McGurr said at the time, referring to when service might return to the area, but problems continued throughout the night.

No injuries had been reported as of late afternoon, he added.

The Richard Rodda Community Center suspended all programs for the remainder of the night. Using a reverse 911 alert, police advised parents they could retrieve their children at the Votee Park Field House, where staff would be waiting.

Aside from Teaneck, no towns in North Jersey appeared to be affected by widespread disruptions across any of the three utility companies that service the area, save for a short period when JCP&L reported nearly 2,000 customers without power in Morris County's Washington Township. Power returned to all but a few later in the night.

This article originally appeared on Teaneck NJ power outage caused by transformer fire: police