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PPL substation in Allentown catches fire, leaving thousands without power

Allentown generator fire 12/27
Emily Ascani
A generator fire in the West End of Allentown caused the sky to light up Wednesday night.

ALLENTOWN, Pa. — A power substation caught fire Wednesday night, causing thousands in the city to lose power.

According to residents, the sky was lit up with streaks of blue, purple and gray for a "solid two minutes" while members of the Allentown Fire Department rushed to the scene of a suspected generator fire.

"The sky was lit up like Christmas," one resident said. "It looked like a nuclear explosion."

Fire Capt. John Christopher said the fire happened at a PPL substation at 14th Street and Sumner Avenue.

The fire knocked out power about 5:30 p.m. to nearly 9,000 customers including in the West End Theatre District.

PPL said the cause was under investigation.

"At approximately 5:32 p.m. on Wednesday, December 27, 8,450 of our customers lost power due to an unknown cause at a substation in the city of Allentown," the utility company said in a statement.

"All customers that were affected by the outage were restored on or before 6:16 p.m.

"The cause of the outage, which is still being investigated, resulted in a fire within the substation which has since been put out. There were no injuries and there is no danger to the public associated with this issue at the substation.

"Our crews are currently onsite and evaluating the equipment to determine the full extent of the damage and the root cause of the outage."

Firefighters were able to put out the fire quickly, officials said.