This summer has been a busy one in Madison, but perhaps the most well known incident is the MG&E explosion downtown on July 19. At 7:40 am, the first explosion and fire was reported at the Blount Street substation, owned by MG&E and American Transmission Co. (ATC). At 8:00 am, a second explosion and fire was reported at the ATC substation near the Kohl Center. Buildings around the substations were evacuated, including all of the people staying in Ogg Hall and the surrounding dorms. Sirens were heard all over downtown as trucks raced by, delivering 40 firefighters to the areas of the fires. It took over 30 minutes for crews to put out both of the fires. Luckily, no one was working at the substations when the fires broke out, and no injuries were reported to have been caused by the fires. MG&E CEO Jeff Keebler said in a public appearance shortly after the fires that the two fires are connected. The fires were put out, but 13,000 customers were left without power, including the Overture Center, Children’s Museum, many government offices, and private homes. Governor Tony Evers declared a state of emergency and closed all government buildings. Due to the hot weather, working without air conditioning was unsafe. The American Red Cross in Madison opened the Alliant Energy Center as a cooling shelter for people with no air conditioning, providing dinner and a couple hundred cots for those who needed a cool place to stay the night.
By Eliana Sauer