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SDG&E’s Escondido Transformer Fire Nontoxic?

A massive cloud of black smoke that loomed above the Escondido Auto Park on December 22 was due to a transformer fire at SDG&E’s substation on Enterprise Street.

The fire started at approximately 12:15 p.m. and took most of the afternoon to burn itself out. According to an alert message issued by the City of Escondido, the fire took so long to die because the transformer contained 15,000 gallons of a mineral-based cooling fluid.

A fire engine and an ambulance were on standby, and police officers blocked off Citracado Parkway and Auto Park Way. Everyone within a one-mile radius of 571 Enterprise Street was advised to stay inside until further notice; however, a police dispatcher stated that the fumes were nontoxic. Despite the warnings, many office workers who smelled the odor came outside to observe. No injuries or disruption to power were reported.

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A massive cloud of black smoke that loomed above the Escondido Auto Park on December 22 was due to a transformer fire at SDG&E’s substation on Enterprise Street.

The fire started at approximately 12:15 p.m. and took most of the afternoon to burn itself out. According to an alert message issued by the City of Escondido, the fire took so long to die because the transformer contained 15,000 gallons of a mineral-based cooling fluid.

A fire engine and an ambulance were on standby, and police officers blocked off Citracado Parkway and Auto Park Way. Everyone within a one-mile radius of 571 Enterprise Street was advised to stay inside until further notice; however, a police dispatcher stated that the fumes were nontoxic. Despite the warnings, many office workers who smelled the odor came outside to observe. No injuries or disruption to power were reported.

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Escondido residents can only hope for a non-toxic evaluation by state regulators. The good cheer of the holiday season prevents me from commenting on the California Department of Toxic Substance Control handling of things that led to guilty verdicts in the federal environmental crimes matter of UNITED STATES OF AMERICA V. SDG&E (2007, dismissed before new trial):

http://www.justice.gov/usao/cas/press/cas70713-SDGEVerdict.pdf

Dec. 30, 2010

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