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Power Outage In West Philadelphia Leaves About 100 People Without Heat

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By Al Novack, John Ostapkovich

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Approximately 100 PECO customers were without power in the area of 50th and Cedar in West Philadelphia after a transformer failed late Wednesday night.

Repair crews fixed the problem, but not before residents were left without heat when it was 10 degrees outside for several hours.

It happened to houses on and around 50th between Hazel and Cedar Avenues. Residents say power shut off between 9:30 and 10 p.m. on Wednesday.

PECO crews worked throughout Thursday morning to fix a blown transformer, which created the outages.

Resident Lisa Reed said she’s never been more happy to hear her power and heat fire up at 6 a.m. It was a long overnight for her family after she heard a noise Wednesday evening.

“A big loud, like explosion it sounded like, and my kids were like what was that? Then the power just like went out,” said Reed.

PECO says more than 100 of its customers were without power after the transformer blew.

Resident Bridget McCoy said she and her husband decided to stay in their home, despite the vicious temperatures.

“It is very cold in my house right now. It’s actually 45 degrees in my house,” McCoy told Eyewitness News as she headed to work around 4 a.m., “And add on top of that, you don’t have any light, you can see your breath that’s about the only thing you can see. It was a rough night!”

Police set up a shelter at the Samuel B. Huey Elementary School on 52nd and Pine to give residents relief if needed.

A PECO spokesperson says it was an active overnight for its crews because of the cold temperatures.

Additional staff was added to help respond to the problems.

More and more people have generators to provide back-up power during a blackout, but a Philadelphia attorney warns about an unseen danger.

Thomas Gowen, of the Locks Law Firm, says he’s handled a disturbing number of carbon monoxide poisoning cases, some occurring because the exhaust pouring out of a generator is not being handled properly.

“Generators put out a vicious amount of carbon monoxide. They’re usually gasoline-powered and you can’t put them in a garage, even with the door open,” he said. “You can’t put them near a window on the outside and you can never, ever put them inside the building.”

Gowen would like to see generator manufacturers incorporate carbon monoxide detectors and an automatic override on their machines. He says that’s proven and relatively inexpensive technology.

Catalytic converters, a la modern autos, are another potential solution but for now, caveat generator. Let’s be very careful.

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