A fire in an underground transformer shut down power in downtown Spokane Wednesday night, affecting many businesses and residences, and delaying The Spokesman-Review’s press run.
Most subscribers will only receive a portion of today’s newspaper, with the rest to be delivered Friday, said S-R spokesman Shaun O’L Higgins in a news release.
Avista had estimated earlier in the evening that power would be restored by 1 a.m.
The outage affected about eight blocks, including The Davenport Hotel, Cathedral Plaza apartments and The Spokesman-Review building and press facility.
While the S-R newsroom was able to complete the pages for today’s edition under emergency power, the press facility requires full power to operate, Higgins said. The Today section of the paper and advertising materials were printed prior to the outage, and Higgins said trucks carrying those sections were sent out in time for delivery today.
However, power wasn’t restored to the press until 1:30 a.m., and most customers will not receive the main news and sports sections, Higgins said. Network problems related to the power outage were preventing The Spokesman-Review from opening its customer service phone lines at about 7 a.m. Christmas morning.
All of the stories from today’s paper are posted at spokesman.com, which subscribers can access for free.
Eight Spokane Fire Department trucks responded to the fire in a vault on Sprague Avenue just west of Monroe Street in front of the newspaper’s press building, which was reported about 5:50 p.m.
Fire crews checked surrounding buildings served by the transformer to see if the fire spread while Avista power crews were enroute, said Deputy Battalion Chief Dave Leavenworth.
Battalion Chief Bob Green described the fire as “big enough to cause us a lot of concern.”
The affected area includes many popular bars, restaurants, and concert halls, nearly all of which were closed for Christmas Eve.
KHQ News reported that a woman was briefly trapped in an elevator at the Cathedral Plaza apartments, a retirement community on West Sprague Avenue. Firefighters freed the woman, who was unharmed.
At the Davenport Hotel, guests were finishing meals and drinks by candlelight in the lobby before being moved across the street to the Davenport Tower, which was not affected by the outage.