Substation fire leaves Medway-area NStar customers without power

A two-alarm electrical fire at an NStar substation in Medway caused thousands of customers to temporarily lose power today, company officials said.

Medway firefighters received a call at 10:30 a.m., saying there was a mechanical failure at the substation on West Street, said Medway Fire Chief Jeff Lynch .

The entire Medway department, along with firefighters from the Milford, Bellingham, and Millis departments, and the Massport dry chemicals unit rushed to the scene. When they arrived, they found thick black smoke around the station, said Lynch.

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Initially, 6,000 customers from Medway and surrounding areas, including Millis, Hopkinton, Ashland, and Holliston, lost power, according to NStar spokesman Michael Durand. Half of the customers had power restored in five minutes; the other half had power back by noon.

At 12:20 p.m., firefighters asked NStar to shut down the substation for their safety as they continued to battle the fire. This interrupted power for 9,000 customers, including some who had previously lost power, said Durand.

The fire was extinguished by 1:20 p.m. Power was restored to all customers by 1:30 p.m. by rerouting through other substations.

No injuries were reported. The building, which is not regularly staffed, was empty at the time of the fire.

Substations are power hubs set up throughout NStar’s coverage area. The equipment at the stations collects and distributes electricity to customers, said Durand.

The cause of the fire will be investigated once repairs to the station are completed within the next few days.

“From time to time equipment fails for reasons that are not visible prior to it happening,” said Durand.

Lynch said this is the first time the department has experienced a problem with the Medway plant.