Power outage affecting downtown St. Pete businesses

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) – Power will be out in parts of downtown St. Petersburg overnight, officials said.

St. Petersburg Fire Rescue responded Monday to an underground fire near Third Street and Central Avenue.

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“Fire units have an underground transformer, that is smoking and has exploded,” officials said. Duke Energy is dealing with the transformer.

No injuries were reported, but someone was stuck in an elevator at 300 Central Ave. because of the power outage.

Duke Energy said crews are working to put a temporary transformer in and restore power around 9 a.m. Tuesday. A permanent fix will take several days, a spokeswoman said. Earlier officials had said power could be out for 24 hours.

The affected area includes Central Avenue to 1st Avenue North and 3rd Street North to 2nd Street.

News Channel 8 talked with Lt. Steve Lawrence as he waited for power crews. Lawrence said firefighters couldn’t deal with the smoke until the power crews were on hand.

“We can’t go in and fight an electrical fire with water, so they were able to isolate the power and that allowed us to extinguish the fire,” he said after the task was done.

Meanwhile, business owners were left without power.

Matt Crowley is the manager of a restaurant and power.

“If I was just a bar it would be one thing, you know; I’d just kind of lock the doors and try to cool the beer back down in the morning and business as usual. But with the food, I’ve probably got $8,000 – $10,000 in my coolers and just trying to keep the product cool and fresh and safe and worry about that,” he explained.

Josh Cameron owns a seafood restaurant and a pizzeria.

“It’s just unfortunate that we went through this process on Sunday, and now it’s Monday night, we’re doing it all over again,” Cameron said. “With a seafood restaurant, we get fresh seafood delivered six days a week. So naturally, with the situation happening on Sunday, today we had huge shipments of seafood come in to only now be faced with it all over again.”

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