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Cause of electrical fire still unclear: Hydro

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Emergency crews block traffic in both directions near Main and Higgins after power lines caught fire beneath the street.

RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES Enlarge Image

Emergency crews block traffic in both directions near Main and Higgins after power lines caught fire beneath the street. Photo Store

The cause of the underground electrical fire near Higgins Avenue and Main Street on Saturday is still being determined, said Manitoba Hydro spokeswoman Andrea Gruber on Sunday.

The incident caused a power outage for 1,400 customers in the area and an evacuation of the Bell Hotel.

Gruber said Hydro crews, firefighters and police closed off the intersection of Higgins and Main just before 4 p.m. Saturday when a manhole lid blew off the street near the Bell Hotel. Steam rose from the ground where the lid blew off. Gruber said this was caused by burning power lines below ground. Hydro crews are still investigating why the power lines began to burn.

The Bell Hotel at 662 Main St. was evacuated as smoke began to enter the building. Police said there were toxic gases in the air, including carbon monoxide, and so they evacuated the hotel residents on Transit buses. They were taken care of by Social Services, then let back into the Bell Hotel once the power was restored, said Gruber.

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