Incident report and photos by Dennis Wetherhold Jr.
On Saturday evening, October 31, firefighters with the Allentown (PA) Fire Department were sent to work with police and EMS personnel when the driver of a vehicle failed to negotiate a 90-degree turn at the intersection of Plymouth and Columbia Streets. The vehicle left the roadway crashed through a chain link fence and two concrete pylons before striking a large transformer in a Pennsylvania Power and Electric (PPL) substation.
The driver and his passenger were able to escape the vehicle before it burst in to flames; they sustained only minor injuries. The fire left 6,000 in the city of Allentown’s east side and parts of Hanover Township and the borough of Northampton without power for hours while PPL worked to route power in different directions away from the substation.
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The fire department took up a standby mode while waiting for power to be shut down to the substation, as well as waiting for some of the transformer’s oil to burn off. Three hours after the incident started, the Allentown Fire Department made contact with the nearby Lehigh Valley International Airport and requested a crash truck response. A crash truck was sent to the scene and assisted with extinguishment of the transformer and burning oil.