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Power restored after underground fires disrupt downtown Columbus
AEP is investigating if a broken water main and road salt may have caused the original explosion

In The Region:

UPDATE: AEP is reporting that power was restored to downtown Columbus at 12:40 p.m.

American Electric Power has been working all day to restore electricity for many downtown Columbus businesses after an early morning fire and explosions. For Ohio Public Radio, WOSU’s Steve Brown has more from power officials, including one interesting theory about what could have led to the fire.

BROWN: Theories on the cause include road salt

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AEP is still working to find out what led to the fire in an underground vault that caused at least three underground explosions that sent manhole covers flying into the air and into at least one nearby business.

Power company spokeswoman Teri Flora says AEP is exploring an interesting theory: that the underground vault that caught fire was exposed to road salt after a nearby water main break.

“That’s just one thing that we’re looking at: To see how the amount of salt water … that got into our vaults -- which we did clear out -- may have impacted this equipment.”

AEP had expected power to be restored by this morning, but Flora says equipment had to be shut back down when it started smoking.

The fire and subsequent outages forced offices and other businesses to close for the day. That included AEP’s corporate headquarters.

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