Fires blaze through electrical lines in Corona
by Dawn Lim
Jul 06, 2010 | 559 views | 0 0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Corona deli manager Mike Singh was preparing to lock up Bajwa Foodmarket close to midnight when he noticed sparks erupting from the power lines outside. It was the day after the Fourth of July, but he wasn’t watching a fireworks display.

Power lines running from 45th to 48th Avenue and 104th to 111th Street in Queens caught fire on July 5, setting cars ablaze and plunging blocks into darkness.

“I quickly parked my car somewhere else, shut the store, and left,” Singh said.

The heat wave that swept through New York City spiked energy usage and overloaded electrical grids, sparking power outages across Queens and Brooklyn.

The fire was brought under control and no one was hurt, but Corona was one of the areas most affected by the power outages; 171 customers experienced outages in Corona at the peak of its power crisis, noted regulated utility company Consolidated Edison. The company serves 3.1 million customers in New York City.

By noon on July 6, electricity had been restored in Corona, but more than 140 customers scattered across the borough were left stewing without electricity in 100-degree heat early afternoon.

Richard Italiano, the district manager for Queens Community Board 4, which serves Corona, Corona Heights, and Elmhurst, tried to look at the bright side of things.

“At least no one was killed,” he said, but added that the neighborhood’s “wires are old and need to be replaced.” His Corona office’s telephones were still not working by mid-afternoon.

Residents in Corona grumble that the overhead wires are an eyesore and a fire hazard.

But Con Edison spokesman Alfonso Quiroz said that it was easier to locate and fix power glitches in areas with more overhead lines than neighborhoods such as Astoria, where the electrical system lies mostly underground.

As temperatures soared to three-digit figures, July 6 was predicted to be a record-breaking day for energy consumption. “We’re expecting it, but not encouraging it,” said Quiroz.

Last month, Con Edison asked 123,000 customers to switch off “non-essential” equipment to reduce the strain on the city’s power grid.

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