St. Petersburg Fire Rescue battled an underground transformer fire Monday at Third Street and Central Avenue that knocked out power to a portion of downtown impacting may restaurants and bars.
Duke Energy restored power to all businesses in St. Pete by Tuesday morning. They set up a temporary transformer to power the area until a permanent one is put in which will likely take a couple of days.
The transformer underground exploded Monday evening, sending flames and black smoke into the air. No injuries were reported.
Firefighters freed a person trapped in an elevator during the outage at 300 Central Ave.
Restaurants taking the biggest hit include the Lucky Dill Deli. The owner said they lost thousands of dollars. He and his staff were forced to throw away all food stored in refrigerators. They were without power for more than 15 hours. The power outage closed their business early Monday night and all day Tuesday.
“All the good stuff is gone so we’re working right now to diligently get that stock back up so we can reopen hopefully tomorrow,” said kitchen manager Spencer Selnow.
The other restaurants that were closed reopened Tuesday. The owner of The Oyster Bar also owns Fortunato’s Italian Kitchen. Workers stayed late putting cold items they could save in coolers.
“Most of the product we did have to throw away. We iced down everything. The owner was here all night keeping what he could cold but we did have to start pretty much from scratch,”
said Anthony Witkoa, manager at Fortunato’s.
The cause of the explosion is still under investigation. Businesses can file a claim through Duke Energy for losses.