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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Crime/Public Safety

Underground fire on Riverside in downtown Spokane causes outages

UPDATED: Fri., June 5, 2020

Travis Johnson of Johnson Custom Jewelry, left, and Doug Kelley of Avista Utilities talk about the power outage near the Cutter Tower building on Riverside Avenue in Spokane, Washington, Friday, June 5, 2020. A fire in an underground vault occurred justs before six a.m., spreading smoke through adjacent buildings and cutting the power to several buildings and traffic lights. (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)
Travis Johnson of Johnson Custom Jewelry, left, and Doug Kelley of Avista Utilities talk about the power outage near the Cutter Tower building on Riverside Avenue in Spokane, Washington, Friday, June 5, 2020. A fire in an underground vault occurred justs before six a.m., spreading smoke through adjacent buildings and cutting the power to several buildings and traffic lights. (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)

Spokane firefighters quickly extinguished an underground fire on Riverside Avenue on Friday, but not before it cut off power to multiple nearby businesses and traffic signals.

Shortly after 11 a.m., Avista announced on Twitter that power had been restored.

The fire also disrupted internet service for Spokane Public Schools’ administration buildings, the district announced in an email, blacking out digital services including its website, Blackboard, Clever and VPN.

School email, Onedrive and Teams were not impacted.

The fire was reported at about 5:30 a.m. by an employee of the Parkade who heard an alarm sounding from the Sherwood building at 510 W. Riverside Ave., according to the Spokane Fire Department.

Smoke was spotted spewing from a manhole and the fire was traced to the underground vault that houses utilities, including electrical lines. It was quickly stamped out.

As of about 7 a.m., the 500 block of Riverside Avenue was still closed off as firefighters investigated alarms for a loss of power at several nearby buildings and Avista crews arrived to inspect and repair electrical damage.

The city reminded motorists on Friday that when the lights are out at an intersection, it is to be treated as a four-way stop.

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