Breaking News: Outage causes evacuation, blackouts on Columbus

Breaking News: Outage causes evacuation, blackouts on Columbus

The Fourth of July holiday started early for President Joseph Aoun and other senior executives at Columbus Place today, as an electrical malfunction initially caused the building to be evacuated for about an hour before it was later evacuated for the remainder of the workday as power was shut off to the block.

The Boston Fire Department responded to alarms at 716 Columbus Ave. that were set off from a transformer in the basement that began smoking, fire officials said. Jim Ferrier, associate director of Northeastern’s Division of Public Safety, said the fire department determined the over-heated transformer not to be a fire hazard.

Four fire engines and several other emergency vehicles clogged Columbus Avenue while NSTAR, the electrical company, investigated the system. Two ladders were extended to the roof of the six-story building and the avenue was closed in front of the building.

The firefighters began packing up and pulled away shortly after 2 p.m. when NSTAR determined the building was safe to allow people to reenter the building, Ferrier said. However, NSTAR later determine that in order to fix the transformer, power needed to be shut off.

“We evacuated the building again … and some people got an early holiday afternoon off,” he said.

Davenports A and B, 10 Coventry St., 780 and 716 Columbus Ave., and Squashbusters were effected by the power outage, which is expected to last an hour, Ferrier said. He said there was no need to evacuate the buildings because it was daylight. There was no damage and everything was expected to be running full service later in the afternoon, he said.

Columbus Place house’s the offices of the president and the board of trustees. It also contains NUPD and the Alumni Center and Faculty Club, where several staff members were eating lunch at the time of the evacuation. NUPD was running under emergency power and all emergency systems like fire alarms were still working during the power outage, Ferrier said.

Mark Boulter, Northeastern facilities director of building services, was standing outside of the building, where Aoun and other employees of the building were gathered. “I don’t like getting calls for the president’s building getting evacuated,” he said.

Boulter said the problem was minor and that the firefighters were “just doing their jobs like they always do.” He said he was glad to see that the fire hoses were flat indicating that no water used on the building.

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