Blackout Cost Estimated at $2.5 Million

By Toni Waterman & Wires

Mar. 14, 2012

back bay fire

The blackout in the Back Bay Tuesday night. (Tom Stohlman/Flickr)

BOSTON — Thursday morning, about 4,000 customers remained without power after the Mar. 13 transformer fire.
On Mar. 14, businesses were trying to cope. Leo Fonseca said it was a full house at Stephanie’s on Newbury when the fire broke out a few blocks away on Scotia Street around 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday.
"All of a sudden the lights just went out," he said. "It was a little scary at first, but obviously we knew the fire was going on and so we had a feeling it was somewhat related and we knew it wasn’t just us."

Scott Grigelevich of the Lenox Hotel talks to WGBH News' Jordan Weinstein about the impact.

It wasn’t. Fonseca, along with 20,000 other NStar customers, was plunged into darkness: no lights, no computer systems … but more importantly, no refrigeration.
Fortunately, Fonseca said, "Our chef was very quick to get on the phone with the ice company. We got tons of dry ice and ice to keep all of our food cold, make sure it stayed safe. And we’re ready to go."


So are NStar officials: 800 workers have been deployed across the city. As of midday, power had been restored to some areas with the help of 50 generators and two miles of extension cords. But NStar vice president Werner Schweiger said power wouldn't be fully restored until late Wednesday.
"This clearly is a catastrophic event. When you have this sort of fire, it’s not just the fact you lost an electrical component. There is quite a bit of smoke and water damage that tends to contaminate the entire substation," he said.
Schweiger estimated the cost of the damage at $2.5 million.

Emily Rooney, a Back Bay resident herself, talks to callers about the blackout and fire.

Workers could be seen hauling away the transformer’s charred remains as the curious and tourists alike looked on. Eric Klassen, a visitor from Colorado whose rental car was trapped in a parking garage, described the experience: "Right when we turned the corner, we saw the billowing smoke going through the parking structure, so we thought our car was going to be torched. Luckily it was the building behind it and smoke was being blown in that direction," he said. "Hopefully we can get the car out."
And hopefully he had insurance. As for Fonseca, he had some staff on hand for the evening shift but said it was just a waiting game.
"We’ve been getting conflicting reports today about what time we’ll actually get power back, but we’re hoping to get it back today and get open," he said.
He estimated his potential financial loss at $40,000.

Material from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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