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PSE&G Must Wait To Find Cause Of Waldwick Explosion, Fire

"The fire began in that less-than-one-second instant."
"The fire began in that less-than-one-second instant." Photo Credit: Boyd A. Loving

WALDWICK, N.J. -- PSE&G officials said they were waiting for a switching station to completely cool down so that they could determine what caused an explosion and fire yesterday that forced area evacuations and knocked out power to several towns.

"We do not have most of the details on the cause of the equipment failure because we can’t access the equipment until the fire is no longer smoldering – and the area cools down and is made safe so that we can conduct a full investigation and begin the process of making repairs," the uitlity's Annette L. Hicks told Daily Voice.

"We can tell that the equipment automatically shut down in less than one second when the failure was detected," she added, "but the fire began in that less-than-one-second instant."

Residents were able to return to their homes nearly eight hours after the blaze broke out at the Hopper Avenue switching station around 10:40 a.m.

The fire was contained inside the perimeter, although rising columns of thick, black smoke could be seen for miles.

The vegetable oil-based substance that burned didn't contain any toxic chemicals and there was no public health risk, authorities said. Firefighters used foam to douse it.

A firefighter sustained an ankle injury when a hose snapped from a hydrant and hit him, authorities said. No other injuries were reported.

Power was temporarily knocked out to 2,000 or so customers in several towns besides Waldwick, including Hillsdale, River Vale, Westwood and Woodcliff Lake.

"We do not expect that there will be any long-lasting effect from this event to our network or the community," Hicks said.

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