Generators restore full power after fire
The fire did not interrupt essential patient services and did not endanger the hospital.
By WILLIAM K. ALCORN
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
YOUNGSTOWN -- Surgeries set for today at St. Elizabeth Health Center were to go as scheduled after two generators restored full power to the facility.
Compromised insulation caused an electrical fire Tuesday morning in the vault containing an underground main power line between St. Elizabeth Health Center and its electrical substation that led to the hospital's canceling elective procedures Tuesday.
Other than that, and shutting down public elevators, patient care was not seriously affected. Patient elevators remained in operation, said Tina Creighton, hospital spokeswoman.
The power outage occurred at 10:45 a.m. Tuesday. Normal power, provided by two new generators, resumed Tuesday evening.
Creighton said that backup generators immediately kicked in when the power failed and that the two new generators were brought to St. Elizabeth late Tuesday to allow it to function until a more permanent power source is restored.
The electrical substation is located in an employee parking lot at Covington Street and Park Avenue.
Replacement lines coming
Creighton estimated it will take two to three days for the power line to be replaced. Because the lines must carry high voltage, the material isn't readily available. The replacement lines are being brought from Georgia and Indiana.
Because the feeder lines are 4 to 5 feet underground, it will take time to dig them out and clean the conduit before the new line can be installed, the spokeswoman said.
Hospital officials said the fire did not interrupt essential patient services.
It did put on quite a show for awhile, however.
"It was like [the geyser] Old Faithful," said Youngstown Fire Department Battalion Chief Robert Hian.
After pressure from the fire blew a manhole cover off in the employee parking lot, it spewed blue flames through the open manhole 20 to 30 feet into the air every five to seven minutes, and periodically blew perfect manhole-size smoke rings, Hian said.
No one hurt
No injuries were reported. Hian said, however, an employee vehicle was slightly scorched by the flames.
No patients delivered by ground ambulance were diverted because of the outage. The hospital asked helicopter companies, however, to fly their patients to other trauma facilities.
Creighton said hospital maintenance personnel and Dickey Electric, an electrical contractor, were working to repair the problem.
Ohio Edison was not involved because the hospital owns the substation and the line.
The feeder lines are the hospital's main power lines and, they run from the substation. They are subjected to regular preventive maintenance to ensure the continuity of utility services. At no time did the underground fire pose a danger to the hospital, officials said.
Because the hospital has been running on backup power, two of its ancillary buildings did not have heat Tuesday. One of the buildings is the Ambulatory Care Center, where many clinic patients are seen each day.
The hospital said it was canceling all patient visits at the clinic this morning. Patients scheduled after 1 p.m., however, can keep their appointments. If Ambulatory Care clinic patients have questions, they may call (330) 480-3676, hospital officials said.
Additionally, St. Elizabeth employees in the Ambulatory Care Center and the Park Avenue Building are asked not to report to work until noon today.