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We Energies restores power after underground explosion (UPDATE)

A utility worker and Milwaukee police officer stand near an area of broken pavement Monday in the intersection of North Jefferson and East Mason streets in Milwaukee. An underground power line caused a fire and explosion Sunday. (Staff photo by Kevin Harnack)

By Dan Shaw

We Energies crews hope to determine the cause of an underground explosion that knocked out power in the area around the Pfister Hotel in downtown Milwaukee on Sunday.

Crews restored power to about 500 customers Sunday night after an underground explosion near the intersection of East Mason and North Jefferson streets in Milwaukee.

As of Monday afternoon, about 100 customers who were still without power were restored, according to Brian Manthey, spokesman for We Energies.

The explosion caused two manhole covers to fly into the air and nearby concrete to buckle around 5:30 p.m. Sunday. Manthey said he thought their power would be restored by Monday afternoon, allowing crews to turn their attention to the cause of the accident.

Manthey said the explosion was unusual and that no construction crews were working in the area before the accident.

“This has happened before, but it’s not one we see very often,” he said.

According to reports, officials have said the explosion was related to a faulty electrical cable that started a fire underground.

A two-block area around the explosion was cordoned off by police late Monday morning as crews from We Energies worked at the scene.

No injuries were reported.

Sandy Rusch Walton, communications manager for the Milwaukee Department of Public Works, said that if the explosion is found to have been caused by a malfunction in We Energies’ equipment, the company will be responsible for repairing the damage.

She said city sewers were not affected by the explosion.

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