APS: Restoring power to Downtown high-rises after deadly fire may take days

PHOENIX (FOX 10) -- Officials with Arizona Public Service (APS) said Monday that it may take days to restore power to four highrise commercial buildings in Downtown Phoenix, following a deadly fire late Sunday night and into early Monday morning.

According to Phoenix Fire officials, two APS workers were working in an underground electrical vault near 1st Avenue and Washington when a fire broke out. One made it out with burns to his face and hands, and the other, since identified as Ricardo Castillo, died.

The fire resulted in disruption to some Downtown businesses and residents Monday. At one point, three light rail stations were closed, but all have since returned to service.

APS officials released the following statement regarding the incident:

"We are deeply saddened to report that an APS employee died, and another was injured, in an accident on Sunday night while they were performing planned maintenance. They were working in downtown Phoenix in an underground vault that houses electrical infrastructure. The underground equipment involved serves downtown facilities and venues, some of which are without power today until the area can be deemed safe and repairs can be completed. The cause of the accident will be fully investigated.

Our focus is on the safety of those actively working the scene, the well-being of these employees' co-workers and families and restoring power safely and quickly once repairs can begin. APS cannot provide an estimated time to have the power back on until more is known at the scene. These are the locations currently without power: Wells Fargo, Phoenix Municipal Building, the Maricopa County Administration Building and Phoenix Civic Plaza South. Additional sites are operating with partial power, including the Sheraton Phoenix Downtown.

APS is working closely with the City of Phoenix police and fire departments, with the fire department leading the on-site unified incident command center."

As for power restoration efforts, APS officials said the company is mobilizing all needed resources to restore service to the four buildings, which includes the Wells Fargo Tower, the Phoenix Municipal Building, the Maricopa County Administrative Building, and the Phoenix Convention Center South Hall. Power for three of the four buildings should be restored within the next 48 hours, but the Wells Fargo Tower may be without power for a longer period of time.

In a separate statement, officials with Maricopa County said the County Administration Building, located on the 300 block of W. Jefferson Street, will remain closed on July 2. All other county buildings in Downtown Phoenix will reopen. The Administration Building houses the Treasurer's Office, Assessor's Office, much of the County Attorney's office, Board of Supervisors, and the county's executive leadership.