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Big bang, flickering lights rattle Monessen residents

| Friday, March 14, 2014, 12:41 a.m.

A malfunction at an electrical substation in Monessen scared several city residents out of their homes Thursday night.

Residents in the Marion Avenue and Pennsylvania and Monessen boulevard neighborhoods reported hearing an explosion followed by a brief loss of electrical service about 9:30 p.m.

Initial reports had city firefighters searching several areas for the source, including Monessen Elementary Center.

Sarah Calderone of 1520 Marion Ave. said the sound was so loud, she thought something had exploded in her home.

“Then I saw my lights flicker and smelled something electrical burning,” said Calderone as she huddled with neighbors on the sidewalk in front of her house. “I called 911 and got out of there.”

Her next-door neighbor, Carmen Beneccio, said he heard the blast and immediately went outside to investigate.

“I figured it had to be some kind of (electrical) transformer,” Beneccio said.

Firefighters searched Calderone's home for about 20 minutes before deeming it safe for her to return inside.

No. 1 Fire Department Chief Joe Altemara said he was at the downtown station when he saw the lights flicker in the upper neighborhoods.

“There were people from three blocks who reported hearing the explosion,” Altemara said.

West Penn Power spokesman Rob Lombardo said late Thursday that crews were in the Grand Boulevard area working on the substation.

“The only thing they found so far was a blown fuse, which would make a loud popping sound,” Lombardo said. “They are still patrolling the lines and looking into it.

He said only one city resident was still without power at that point.

Stacy Wolford is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-684-2640 or at swolford@tribweb.com.

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