West Seattle, Washington
ORIGINAL REPORT, 1:25 PM: Seattle Fire is responding to a call characterized as a “minor explosion” near Fauntleroy and Alaska. At least one witness say it’s blown off a “manhole cover” near Spruce/LA Fitness. Power is out to more than 3,200 homes and businesses in West Seattle as a result, according to the City Light outage map. More to come.
1:32 PM: This has escalated to a “vault fire” callout.
1:38 PM: Adding a photo. Lots of emergency vehicles and big traffic backups, so avoid the Fauntleroy/Alaska area TFN.
1:49 PM: City Light says they hope to restore power “within a few hours.” SFD has canceled some of the units responding to the vault fire (for the commenter who asked what that means – it’s an underground vault that’s part of the electrical system). No word of any injuries so far.
1:55 PM: Now up to more than 3,900 homes and businesses out – this is on the City Light map as two separate outages, 3,200+ and 600+. Adding a screengrab momentarily for the record:
1:59 PM: And then … some got their power back, so the outage has returned to 3,200+. Thanks for the updates in comments – that’s usually first word of power restoration!
2:12 PM: Commenter Matt shared the photo you see above – the smoke coming from underground right in front of Spruce/LA Fitness just after explosions were heard. Meantime, the number of homes/businesses without power is down to 1,820.
2:33 PM: Seattle Fire has completely cleared the scene, meaning the fire is out. In addition to those still without power – an outage also affecting some traffic lights in the area – we also have several mentions that Comcast service is out.
2:52 PM: Just added above, our upload of Matt’s video (linked in comments) of the vault smoke from earlier. Meantime, more comments are saying power’s back, even in the immediate vicinity. Thanks for the updates!
3:55 PM: Down to 136 out, per SCL map.
9 PM: Five hours after that note – they’re still out. Meantime, a Spruce resident has published video from the aftermath of what happened this afternoon:
9:22 PM: Minutes before the estimated time of restoration, the power’s back for all, according to the City Light map. (Call SCL if yours is NOT back yet!)
Thanks for the tips about a water break at 11th and Barton in Highland Park. We just talked with Andy Ryan from Seattle Public Utilities. He says an eight-inch main is broken; they don’t know yet how the break happened but they first heard about it just after 4 this afternoon. 37 customers are affected. Crews are on the scene, but there’s no estimate of how long it’ll take to get it fixed.
Water crews are back out this morning repairing the 8-inch water main. Last night crews responded to the break and throttled the main until they could return today. Customers may have noticed a diminished volume in their water service last night.
Currently water is shut down and crews are fixing the pipe. We expect to have the repair complete and water back on by 3 pm today. About 9 water services are impacted by the shutdown.
We just checked with Luna Park Café and they are open, no water trouble, so it’s apparently NOT affecting the mini-business district there.
P.S. Thanks to original tipster Stephanie for the photo above.
9:22 PM: Though it’s a rainless night, water is rushing downhill in the Luna Park area under the West Seattle Bridge. We checked it out after a tip from Stephanie. A Seattle Public Utilities worker was checking it out along 30th SW, uphill and west of Avalon Way; he told us an SPU crew would be on the way over after fixing an unrelated break downtown. We have a message out to SPU to find out more, including whether anyone is without water service because of the break.
10:37 PM: Haven’t heard back from SPU, so we might not get any followup info until tomorrow.
1:52 AM: Thanks to commenter SEW for an update – not fixed yet.
5:59 PM: Thanks for the tips: Power is out in parts of northeast West Seattle, and apparently it’s not all shown on the outage map, which now shows 15 customers out in Pigeon Point/North Delridge – at and near Delridge/Andover – but we’ve also heard from Victoria in Riverside, who says “we are out down here too,” on 16th and 17th SW. This is likely related to a crash in the 4500 block of West Marginal Way SW that another texter says involved a vehicle hitting a utility/light pole – we’re checking on that. If you’re also out of power but NOT on the City Light map, please let us know in comments (after you’ve called SCL to let them know your outage is not showing – 206-684-3000).
6:04 PM: Now the map is updated to 356 homes/businesses out of power. Adding a screengrab.
6:51 PM: Just back from the crash scene, which is on the east side of West Marginal Way SW – affecting the northbound lanes – just north of the Duwamish Longhouse. The pole was snapped in two and dangling; the vehicle that hit it was about to be towed. Adding photo. Meanwhile, some have the power back – the count is down to 288 on the SCL map. One crew was at the scene and reported to be calling for more help.
7:39 PM: As reminded by commenters, this is affecting some traffic signals too – if you arrive at one that’s not working, that makes it an all-way stop – do NOT go through without stopping.
9:23 PM: The SCL map has now recalibrated the restoration guesstimate to “pending,” which seems in line with what commenter Amy found out.
11:56 PM: The outage is now in its seventh hour, with the current potential restoration time estimated around (corrected) 4 am. (Let us know if you’re back sooner!)
1:52 AM: And after about eight hours, the outage is over.
Completion is in sight for the project meant to reduce combined-sewer overflows into Puget Sound by Lowman Beach – the Murray Combined Sewer Overflow Control Project. We took the photo after getting this update late today:
King County’s million-gallon underground storage tank is now working after passing all system tests. As early as next week, County operators will work inside the facility to monitor flows at the Murray Pump Station and operate the underground storage tank as needed.
Roadway restoration is complete on Beach Dr. SW. The contractor is now restoring sidewalks near the site. Crews are also working in the access road south of Lowman Beach Park to upgrade a small sewer line. This work is expected to be complete by mid-December.
Landscaping and project art will finish up in early 2017, depending on weather (see schedule in attached update for additional information). A fence will remain around the site until all landscaping is complete. The public staircase on site will not be accessible until all project work is complete. Access to Lowman Beach Park will be maintained as it has been throughout construction.
King County and its contractor appreciate your patience as we work to complete the project as quickly as possible. We will provide another update in December with what to expect during activities that will continue in 2017.
No work at the site during the four-day Thanksgiving weekend.
BACKSTORY: It’s been seven years since first word of a possible storage tank to catch overflows. Six years ago, the storage-tank decision was announced. Major work at the site began in August 2013 with demolition of the residences that used to be on the site. Here’s our pic from two years ago when the tank was halfway done:
When done, the structure will include public-access areas for looking out toward Puget Sound.
Seattle Public Utilities won’t be out in Arbor Heights tonight flushing water mains after all. Its testing of a new flushing technology – previewed here a week ago – ended early. We checked in today with SPU’s Ingrid Goodwin, who told us:
We’re all done flushing utilizing the new method. We flushed Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday and intended to flush today and tomorrow, but we ran through all of the machine’s filters, so we had to stop.
The first two days we were able to flush two miles of pipe and remove a lot of sediment that had built up in the water mains. The water mains that we flushed were installed in the late 1940s.
We will begin analyzing the pilot results next week. But it appears it was a successful outcome and we avoided sending thousands of gallons of water down the storm drain.
While the flushing was under way earlier this week in the Genesee/Charlestown Hill area, we heard from one resident who reported a prolonged bout of brown water. Goodwin says, “We did receive calls from about a dozen customers who experienced temporary discolored water due to the flushing. Our crews performed some additional spot flushing to help clear the discoloration.” That’s been a risk of conventional flushing too, which has been under way off and on for several months now as SPU works to clear sediment (basically, rust) from the lines.
The West Seattle Flush goes on – with a new twist. 7 months after Seattle Public Utilities announced it would start flushing local water mains to clear the sediment that resulted in brown-water problems in a variety of circumstances, they’re about to deploy new technology.
Next week (Nov 7 -11) SPU will be in two West Seattle neighborhoods testing a new water main flushing technology that eliminates the need to discharge thousands of gallons of water into storm drains.
The new method consists of a utility trailer (photo above) with a filtering system. Connections between the trailer and water main are made with large diameter hoses attached to fire hydrants. Water used to flush the water main is circulated through the filtering system and returned back into the water main.
The attached two map show the two areas where we’ll be flushing water mains and using this new method. I’ve also enclosed the public notice sent to Arbor Heights residents, where we’ll be flushing at the end of the week (Nov 9 -11).
You can read that notice here.
(SCROLL DOWN for newest updates and photos)
1:43 PM: Just getting word of the first significant power outages in West Seattle so far this blustery day – west of The Junction, North Admiral, and the City Light map also shows two other outages – 117 customers near Lincoln Park and 72 customers in Highland Park. (If your outage is NOT on the map, please call SCL at 206-684-3000!)
UPDATED, 1:53 PM: Now the SCL map has updated. We’re adding a screengrab. “Tree” is the listed cause. More than 4,000 customers are out in West Seattle. Also, Seattle Fire is at 44th and Rose in Gatewood, where a tree fell into a transformer/power line – thanks for the texted photo:
(back to original report) All this follows hours of off-and-on gusty winds – we caught some on video a little while ago:
Wind tousling trees in Gateleroy. pic.twitter.com/ZcDSvsFW6Y
— West Seattle Blog (@westseattleblog) October 14, 2016
TIDE REMINDER, IF YOU MISSED IT: Busy news day so you might not have seen this, but high tides are coinciding with the strong wind because of tomorrow’s full moon.
(Texted photo added above – Beach Drive this afternoon. Thanks to Craig Joseph for sharing it!) Speaking of which …
NEED SANDBAGS? The Delridge Community Center is out of them but expecting more later today. If you need them urgently, try the South Park Community Center.
2:22 PM: A commenter says Delridge has sandbags now. Meantime, a father and 4-year-old son are being taken to the hospital after being hit by a falling tree branch near Fauntleroy Church (which abuts forested Fauntleroy Park). We got to the scene just as the child was about to be transported to Harborview; his father is still being evaluated.
Too soon for information on the circumstances – we will update when we find out more.
3:13 PM: SFD describes the child’s injuries as serious, the father’s injuries as minor.
(added Friday evening) Fauntleroy Church minister Rev. Leah Atkinson Bilinski sent this statement:
I was very sad today to learn about the father and son struck by a tree near Fauntleroy Church. As concerned community members, we will be working with the Seattle Parks and Recreation Department to better understand the incident, but our primary concern right now is for the family involved in this accident. They are YMCA patrons and neighbors, and our hearts go out to them.
As I was away from the church today, I also wish to say a big “thank you” to the church and Y staff and community members who quickly responded to offer help and care until emergency personnel could arrive.
(back to previous coverage) Meantime, regarding the power outage – we’re getting multiple reports that traffic signals are out in The Junction, though the outage is only affecting the west side of the street. We’re headed that way for an update.
3:46 PM: Thanks for the updates. About a third of those who were out now have their power back, Admiral/North according to the map. We’re still working our way to The Junction. Meantime, a falling branch seems to have played a role in a crash on eastbound Olson, blocking the turn to southbound Myers.
No injuries as far as we can tell – SFD was not called for medical assistance.
4:11 PM: We just stopped by The Junction. California/Alaska signal is indeed out. And businesses on the west side of the street are still without power, many with handwritten “closed/power out” signs.
Further north, a big problem hasn’t been fixed yet at Hinds/47th – this power-pole problem:
Thanks to everyone who sent photos earlier. This is near Madison Middle School, which has a fire-alarm call right now – don’t know if it’s related. We can hear the alarm from where we’re checking out the power pole situation.
ADDED 4:47 PM: If you’re just getting ready to leave for home .. it’s partly sunny over here, still breezy.
5:07 PM: Regarding the sirens and emergency vehicles – it’s for a possible rescue which we’re covering separately.
Also, tomorrow’s weather alert is now up to High Wind Warning status, 3 pm Saturday-2 am Sunday. We’ll get a separate evening weather story going after our coverage of the potential rescue.
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Neighbors of the former Avalon substation building by the southwest end of the West Seattle Bridge say they were surprised to find out, after years of living nearby, that it is contaminated with mercury and set for demolition.
Wednesday afternoon, they gathered with Seattle City Light and Department of Construction and Inspections reps and City Councilmember Lisa Herbold to try to clarify what happened and what’s planned for the site after the building is torn down and the contamination cleanup. Read More
ORIGINAL REPORT, 4:35 PM: Thanks for the tips. As of less than 10 minutes ago, power has gone out for more than 4,200 customers (homes/businesses), mostly just south of West Seattle but including some WS pockets. More to come.
5:01 PM UPDATE: Seattle City Light‘s map also includes another 3,500+ out in parts of Burien. No word yet on the cause – SCL’s current “restoration estimate” is 11 pm, but as we always remind you during outages, that is a guesstimate at best, could be sooner, could be later.
5:28 PM UPDATE: The SCL map now blames “tree” for outage. Restoration guesstimate has updated to 11:25 pm.
6:13 PM UPDATE: SCL now says via Twitter “crews have now determined that the cause was due to a broken utility pole crossarm near the Duwamish Substation.”
6:49 PM UPDATE: All but 588 customers are back on.
SUNDAY MORNING: According to the City Light map, everyone had power restored at some point very early this morning.
(Click map for full-size PDF version)
The second phase of Seattle Public Utilities‘ West Seattle water-main flushing is about to start; the map above shows where the water pipes already have been flushed, and where the utility is going to be flushing starting this Sunday night.
If you missed the run-up to phase 1, SPU reminds you that it “is performing this work to help maintain water quality and reduce the occurrence of discolored water that some West Seattle customers have been experiencing. Flushing won’t eliminate discolored water, but it will help decrease it.” The “sediment” that leads to discolored water, SPU explains, comes from a rust buildup. (We had first word of the flushing plan back in March; the work began in April.)
Phase 2, according to the SPU notice sent to residents in the work zone (see the entire notice here), will involve work Sundays through Thursdays, 10 pm-5 am, over the next four to six weeks. Signs will go up in advance at hydrants that will be opened as part of the flushing. (This WSB story shows how the process works and what’s done at the work zones.)
SPU also notes, “When crews are flushing nearby, customers will experience discolored water, which should clear quickly once crews are done flushing the water main. Running the cold water for a few minutes can also help clear the discoloration.” If you have discolored water that doesn’t clear quickly, or any other water-quality problem, SPU’s 24-hour emergency line is 206-386-1800.
P.S. Here’s a deeper dive into your water’s backstory.
7:20 AM: Thanks to the Atlas Place residents who texted to share the news of a water break in the south Beach Drive SW area. They woke up to no water, contacted Seattle Public Utilities, and were told about the break. We’ll be checking with SPU to find out about the extent of it and how long it might take to fix.
9:18 AM: Went to check it out firsthand – the water is coming up in the street in the 6700 block of Beach Drive, not far north of Lincoln Park, and an SPU crew (as shown in our photo above) is on scene.
9:26 AM: Just talked to an SPU spokesperson who says that traffic will be blocked for the repairs, which will likely take “three or four hours.” The break is in an 8-inch water main, likely just a failure of old infrastructure, and they believe it’s affecting water service to 25-30 customers (households, since this is a residential area). We’ll check back later in the day so we can update when the crew’s finished.
2:43 PM: An area resident says the water’s back and the crew is wrapping up:
That’s the pipe problem behind the break, the resident was told.
3:46 PM: Seattle City Light has just restored power to the Junction businesses/residences that have been out in the aftermath of this morning’s Junction construction-site crane-in-wires incident (WSB coverage here) that left two workers in critical condition. Some businesses had closed because of the outage, while we found at least three that were able to stay open. We had a crew in the area just before power came back on, and we’re heading back over momentarily for an update, and to check on whether SW Oregon has reopened.
4:41 PM: Yes, the road has reopened.
Along with what we’ve already previewed, here’s one more event for tonight. While it is happening in South Park, Duwamish River advocates tell us this event is potentially of interest to everyone concerned about the river and its watershed. It’s a Seattle City Light community meeting tonight to talk about its planned Technical Training Center. The center, with classrooms and an outdoor training yard, would be on Hamm Creek, on the north side of SCL’s Duwamish Substation. The plan would include “wetland mitigation … with approximately 4 acres of habitats similar to historic conditions on the Lower Duwamish River,” as well as a walking trail. Tonight’s meeting is scheduled for 6:15-7:45 pm at the South Park Community Center (8319 8th Avenue S.).
If you can’t get to the meeting but are interested in commenting on the plan, SCL is taking comments through next Tuesday (September 20th) as part of its State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA)-related review. Those comments can be sent to Margaret Duncan, SEPA Coordinator, at email@example.com or by postal mail at 700 5th Avenue, Suite 3200, Seattle 98104.
1:21 PM: Thanks to the resident who texted to report a water outage in the 8100 block of 27th SW. We advised a call to the Seattle Public Utilities hotline (206-386-1800), and the resident reported back that SPU is working on a water-line break in the 27th SW/SW Kenyon vicinity. We’re checking with SPU to find out more.
2:07 PM: SPU spokesperson Ingrid Goodwin tells WSB that the break is on an 8-inch pipe at the location mentioned above [map]. “SPU crews have throttled the main, which means some customers are experiencing a reduction in pressure and while others may be out of water. This break is impacting about 25 homes and businesses in the area. At this time, I don’t have an estimated time when the repair will be complete and water restored.”
3:17 PM: Update from Goodwin: Repairs will take several hours, so the water will likely be back on between 7 and 9 pm.
(Map of outage area, from Seattle City Light website)
12:38 AM: Thanks for the texts: Seattle City Light‘s outage map says more than 3,500 homes/businesses have lost power, mostly in southeast West Seattle and White Center. No word yet on the cause.
12:53 AM: The map now has the “estimated restoration” time of 7 am, but we always add the reminder, that’s a guesstimate and it could be much sooner, or much later. SCL is still investigating the cause.
1:15 AM: Commenter SteveMG reports seeing SCL and emergency responders in the 8th/Roxbury vicinity.
1:18 AM: We’re getting some reports of power restored – mostly from South Delridge. No change in the outage-map total yet but sometimes it lags.
1:25 AM: Now the map’s caught up with the restoration reports – 294 customers (homes/businesses) still without power, in White Center. Here’s the updated map:
1:36 AM: Along with SteveMG, a commenter on our partner site White Center Now also mentions what seemed like an underground “explosion” at 8th/Roxbury. Here’s what SCL tweeted about the cause, without mentioning a specific location:
Crews have identified an equipment failure in an underground vault as the cause for the White Center-W. Seattle outage.
— Seattle City Light (@SEACityLight) August 31, 2016
6:27 AM: Power has since been fully restored.
Back when Seattle City Light started converting streetlights to LEDs, the conversion was initially planned for residential streets only.
Then, the utility decided in 2013 that it would be OK to convert arterial streetlights too, and while the subsequent work began in the north part of the city, this summer, that conversion has been moving full speed ahead in West Seattle.
This past week, we noticed a crew working late at night on the streetlights along the two arterials closest to WSB HQ, California SW and SW Thistle, which are now fully switched over in the Gatewood/Fauntleroy area. So we checked in with Seattle City Light on the conversion status, as well as the reason work was being done at night (while we’re still working at 11:45 pm, seemed a little noisy for residents who sleep more “normal” hours).
Spokesperson Scott Thomsen explained, “Crews have been working nights since June 1. This shift change was done mostly due to Metro trolley routes and to avoid disruption to busy arterial streets when they are most busy and for crew safety.” The night work is expected to end within the next month or so; in the meantime, he says, crews are reminded to be mindful of the noise, but while the “tool they use to loosen and tighten bolts does make a ‘ratcheting’ type noise” – this was the observation made in our note asing about it – “The crew will typically spend less than 10 minutes at any given light.”
Thomsen wasn’t sure how much longer the work, now in the service area south of SW Brandon, will be going on in West Seattle; though we do a fair amount of night driving around West Seattle, we haven’t seen the crews since the work close to our neighborhood around midweek. He says, “The scheduling estimates are not that specific since the crews work in rows across the service territory.”
Around the city: “A little more than 16,000 arterial lights have been converted to LED and our contractor will continue with conversions through December. In 2017, we should complete the arterial conversions.” Checking our archives, this appears to be an acceleration, as it was just last year that West Seattle arterial conversions weren’t expected to start BEFORE 2017.
Also from the archives: As this WSB story from 2010 shows, West Seattle was a test area when the city started planning the non-arterial streetlight conversions.
BACKSTORY: More background on the LED streetlight program can be found on this page of City Light’s site.)
10:24 AM: Thanks to Susan for the tip – power is out for what Seattle City Light says is 108 customers (homes/businesses) in The Arroyos and vicinity. The cause isn’t yet known, but the utility hopes to have power back by mid-afternoon, as of the latest guesstimate.
P.S. This is the same footprint and customer count as the outage this past May that lasted more than 24 hours.
11:21 AM: Scott Thomsen of City Light tells WSB that the outage has been traced to “equipment failure” and they’re now hoping to have the power back by 4:30 pm.
7:36 PM: As pointed out in comments, it’s not fixed yet and the restoration guesstimate is now past midnight. SCL says an underground cable is what failed.
11:05 PM: Still out, says the City Light outage-tracker map, now pushing the guesstimate to 4 am-ish.
6:35 AM: JL says in comments that the power returned at 5 am – that would have been after more than 20 hours.
If you live in the Hillcrest area, you should be getting – if you haven’t already – a notice from Seattle City Light about a project starting in early September, “to increase electrical reliability … by rebuilding parts of the underground electrical system.” Here’s where they’ll be working:
The city is circulating this flyer, and says its key points are:
· Three sections of the neighborhood, each one block or slightly longer, will have conduit and vaults installed. The work is the next phase in the refurbishment of the system.
· Trenching in the public right-of-way is planned from the first week of September through February 2017. Planned power outages may be required during this phase of the project. If required, customers will be notified in advance.
· Affected landscaping, sod, driveway aprons, and sidewalks will be restored to City standards.
Actual cable replacement will happen next year, according to the project webpage (see it here); no contact information there yet but SCL says customers with questions can take them to David Mannery, Electrical Service Representative, firstname.lastname@example.org or 206-386-4245.
We have a Seattle Public Utilities update on the repairs happening on 46th SW near Hudson, southwest of The Junction:
Part of this repair necessitates shutting off water for a small number of residents on 46th Ave. SW. The work will be finished tomorrow and those who are affected by the water outage have been notified. While we do not anticipate any impacts to other residents’ water, any time the water main is disturbed there is the chance of discolored water. If residents experience discolored water they should run their taps for two minutes before drinking. This water is perfectly safe to drink, however.
While most of the CenturyLink outage reports we covered here recently involved fiber internet access, some involved TV – and that caught the attention of a city division you might not have heard of: The Office of Cable Communications, part of the Information Technology department. We heard today from Jim Loter, a spokesperson for that division, which he explains “is responsible for regulating the cable television providers that offer services in Seattle.” He had seen the WSB reports and wanted to make sure you know about “customer rights during cable TV outages,” and pointed us to a new item on the city website Tech Talk which details those rights, including a pointer to the webpage for the Cable Customer Bill of Rights. Again, this is just for TV, not internet, but if you’ve had trouble with an unresponsive provider – it might help.