Power restored to most customers in downtown Colorado Springs after underground utility fire

Many businesses in downtown Colorado Springs were still without power Tuesday afternoon after an underground fire at a utility caused an outage early Monday morning. Colorado Springs Utilities says power should be restored to most affected customers by Tuesday night. 

Fire crews responded at about 2:30 a.m. Monday morning to reports of flames coming out of manhole covers in the city’s downtown. Utilities Spokesperson Steve Berry said it’s believed an equipment failure was to blame.

“(It was) either with a transformer underground or a cable. That had a cascading effect, which is rare.”, Berry said. “That then went down other parts of the downtown system and created a pretty dramatic scene.”

The outage affected about 280 customers in the downtown area and also knocked streetlights. Many of the impacted customers were downtown businesses who were unable to conduct normal operations Tuesday.

Having electrical lines underground allows the area to avoid having power lines strung above the historic downtown. However, Berry said it also increases the cost and time needed to fix them. 

“The downtown system here in Colorado Springs is particularly complex, and so it's a lot of just manual processes to go circuit by circuit to slowly bring customers back into service,” Berry said.  

While officials believe the fire was caused by equipment failure, Berry said there were no indications of vandalism or tampering.