VENTURA : Electricity Cut Off to 4,400 Customers

About 4,400 Ventura residences and businesses were without electricity for half an hour Wednesday afternoon and about 100 more customers remained without power into the evening as the result of a fire in an underground electrical vault.

The problems began at 3:23 p.m. in the vault housing electrical-switching equipment in the 2100 block of Knoll Drive, Southern California Edison officials said.

A rubber connector binding two half-inch electrical cables failed, causing the wires to ignite and explode, said Rich Pearson, operations superintendent for the utility.

The explosion cut off electricity in the entire area from Olivas Park Drive on the south to the Santa Paula Freeway, between Montgomery Avenue on the east and Callens Road, said Mike Montoya, area manager for Southern California Edison.

Most of the 4,477 residences and businesses affected had their electricity restored by 4 p.m., Montoya said.

But about 100 customers in the business and industrial area along Knoll Drive, Sperry Avenue and Colt Street were expected to remain without power for another six hours while Edison crews replaced damaged equipment in the underground vault.

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