UPDATE: ‘Vault fire’ blamed for West Seattle, White Center power outage

FIRST REPORT, 7:17 PM: Getting word of a power outage in Westwood and South Delridge. More to come.

7:19 PM: Hearing from Highland Park and White Center too. And the SFD log says it’s a vault fire at 22nd and Roxbury.

7:26 PM: On our way to check out the fire scene. Meantime, we’d suggest avoiding Roxbury in that area. And remember that dark stoplights are all-way stops. More than 3,000 customers are out, according to the City Light map.

7:39 PM: Roxbury is blocked by the emergency response, which is near Holy Family. Our crew just arrived in the area. SFD is investigating smoke coming up from a utility-hole cover. For those asking what a “vault fire” means – “vault” in this case is an underground installation of utility equipment.

7:43 PM: The fire is apparently not huge – some units are being dismissed. The City Light restoration estimate is 2 am but PLEASE remember, as we always point out in outage situations (and as SCL itself acknowledges), that is just a guess … could be back on much sooner, or much later.

7:49 PM: Our crew just checked on the detours. If you are headed east, you’ll be rerouted at 21st/Roxbury; if you’re headed west, you’ll be rerouted at 17th and Roxbury.

8:01 PM: We also checked on Westwood Village businesses – the QFC to Marshall’s side is all/mostly out, but other businesses are on. Will also be checking on downtown White Center, which is in the outage zone too, per SCL’s map.

8:14 PM: Per comments, texts, and firsthand sightings in the field, we have word at least some have their power back already. SCL’s map says the outage is down to 1,300+ customers, less than half the initial number.

8:35 PM: As shown on the updated map above, almost everyone still out is south of Roxbury. That includes downtown White Center:

We’d heard police say via scanner that they had been told they could reopen Roxbury. We’ve also just seen a tweet that Route 560 is no longer rerouted off Roxbury – we’re heading back to the zone to verify.

8:41 PM: Just checked the SCL map and it shows just about everyone back on. If you are NOT – please be sure SCL knows – 206-684-3000. Thanks again to everyone for the updates, including first word of the outage – 206-293-6302 is our breaking-news hotline, 24/7.

9:24 PM: We did verify that Roxbury is open again; when we went through, the 16th/Roxbury signal was in flashing-red mode, though, so another reminder, that means stop all ways.

39 Replies to "UPDATE: 'Vault fire' blamed for West Seattle, White Center power outage"

  • Tera February 11, 2018 (7:20 pm)

    Looks to be South of Trenton. At 15th ans Henderson.

  • AMD February 11, 2018 (7:22 pm)

    Highland Park and White Center are out as well.  The power flickered a few times before it went out.  Super weird.  The power never goes out here, even when it does for everyone else.

    • AJP February 11, 2018 (8:16 pm)

      Right? My kids didn’t know what a power outage is, we had to explain it to them. 

  • Maggie February 11, 2018 (7:25 pm)

    I’m on 21st near Roxbury and it’s effected us. We can hear lots of sirens though! Very eerie in the dark. 

    • Lesley Egbert February 11, 2018 (7:28 pm)

      Yes, sirens galore here. I’m a few blocks south of Roxbury and the sound seems to be coming from the north.

  • CarrieP February 11, 2018 (7:32 pm)

    What is a “vault”, in this case? Is that a dumb question? I can only “vault” I can picture a bank vault

    • todd d Martin February 11, 2018 (7:48 pm)

      An electrical vault is where a bunch of lines circuit from under the street. When lines are under the street it’s like a giant switching transformer. It can be real bad in that it can cause alot of issues. It’s dark down there and hard to fight the flames. This happened in down town Seattle some years ago. That’s what we get in a modern society. 

      • chemist February 11, 2018 (8:52 pm)

        Here’s a dramatic one, at night.

  • Maggie February 11, 2018 (7:33 pm)

    What’s a vault fire? 

    • Sheezy February 11, 2018 (7:37 pm)

      It’s an electrical fire in an underground vault. May include explosions 

    • Greg February 11, 2018 (7:38 pm)

      (Underground?) Utility vault, IIRC. Basically an in-ground concrete box containing e.g. electrical switching equipment.

  • Coffeedude February 11, 2018 (7:34 pm)

    Reminder intersections with lights that are out are four way stop

  • Greg February 11, 2018 (7:34 pm)

    Just drove through the area across Roxbury. Lots of very dark side streets. Also heard the approaching sirens from the west of the outage. Was wondering how long ago whatever happened, happened – it seems it wasn’t long ago at all! 

  • Hungry Resident February 11, 2018 (7:34 pm)

    Dang it right when I was getting ready to cook a meal.

    • Lesley February 11, 2018 (8:14 pm)

      Me, too. My roast has become a braise. Thankfully I have a gas stove.

  • MMB February 11, 2018 (7:35 pm)

    Lights are flickering over in Arbor Heights, too.

  • Frank February 11, 2018 (7:38 pm)

    20 minutes into this and we still have more units responding. Sirens have not stopped. Must be a decent size event. 

  • AN February 11, 2018 (7:38 pm)

    I’ m 24th and just north of Trenton.  My neighbor to the north of me has power but everyone to the south is out.

  • MMB February 11, 2018 (7:39 pm)

    If I’m not mistaken, a vault is an underground sort of electrical main box thing. Some streetlights have individual  vaults. Probaby better info on Google!

  • Jason Winston February 11, 2018 (7:41 pm)

    I just past through the area. At least 11 emergency vehicles gathering on Roxbury right by the Holy Family Catholic church

  • Natalee February 11, 2018 (7:44 pm)

    I think it’s an electrical fire.

    google –  May 16, 2011. The Canadian Electrical Code defines a vault as “an isolated enclosure either above or below grade with fire-resisting walls, ceilings and floors for the purpose of housing transformers and other electrical equipment.”May 16, 2011

  • steve February 11, 2018 (7:45 pm)

    A vault is a distribution center like one of the big green boxes you see around shopping centers. If that helps

  • West Seattle Steve February 11, 2018 (7:46 pm)

    There are some transformers located in small underground rooms made of concrete. They can explode like the smaller ones on telephone poles.

  • Dereck February 11, 2018 (7:48 pm)

    http://www.firefighternation.com/articles/2017/06/seattle-vault-fires-review.html heres what your looking for

  • Jissy February 11, 2018 (8:05 pm)

    City light page estimates restoration at 6:00 am… hope you’re more accurate, WSB (which you usually are!).

  • Lc February 11, 2018 (8:09 pm)

    Lights are back on!

  • Jodi Steele February 11, 2018 (8:09 pm)

    Power back on. North of Roxbury @ 14th. 

  • WJW February 11, 2018 (8:10 pm)

    Westwood Village and surrounding homes now have power!

  • Jon. February 11, 2018 (8:10 pm)

    Power just came on, 13th SW between Henderson and Trenton. 

  • West Seattlite 206 February 11, 2018 (8:10 pm)

    Power back on on 20th and Barton 

  • happy now February 11, 2018 (8:12 pm)

    Power back up at 24th and Henderson

  • Lester February 11, 2018 (8:13 pm)

    As seen it all as it was happening smoke out of the sidewalk next to Holy Family Church playground right on 22nd look like a big military style smoke marker unreal less than 10 seconds later all the lights went out before I made it to 16th Avenue on Roxbury call nine-one-one to report it and there you go

  • r o February 11, 2018 (8:15 pm)

    i wounder how long it will take to fix this ?

  • JCW February 11, 2018 (8:19 pm)

    We’re at 26th and 100th, but still have power at the moment. Our streetlights and the neighbors house are still on too. Our overhead lights definitely flickered a few times around 7:30pm though – we were cooking dinner and noticed it dim and flicker back. 

  • Tali February 11, 2018 (8:22 pm)

    Power seems to be back north of Roxbury, but all of us south of there are still out. Sucks to see the lights just at the end of the street. 

  • Tera February 11, 2018 (8:23 pm)

    Thank you, Seattle City Light!! Power back on in Highland Park!!!

  • Alki resident February 11, 2018 (8:28 pm)

    Oddly enough, Burien has been out of power for hours, hoping it’ll be restored by midnight but they didn’t know the source. 

    • WSB February 11, 2018 (8:33 pm)

      The Burien outage is mostly over, if you look at the map. Just a few pockets clustered to the east.

      • WSB February 11, 2018 (8:38 pm)

        …and also SCL tweeted that the Burien outage, now almost entirely restored, was caused by “a vehicle that ran into a pole support wire.”

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