(YouTube video via @qualeigh)
By Zachary T. Sampson and Martin Finucane, Globe Correspondent and Globe Staff
A three-alarm fire this evening in a transformer in a building adjacent to the Back Bay Hilton sent clouds of smoke billowing into the city streets. Power problems stemming from the blaze plunged a wide swath of the city into darkness, as officials warned residents to avoid the area and to avoid breathing the smoke."The public is urged to stay away from this area. Stay indoors please!'' the Boston Fire Department tweeted early in the evening.
"Massive blackout in area. In order to stop fire, power has to be turned off. Sheraton Hotel is now dark except for emergency light,'' the department said via Twitter.
The fire was reported at 6:27 p.m. in the garage on Scotia Street, around the corner from the hotel. The building is separate from the hotel and houses two very large transformers. The fire was burning in a 115,000-volt transformer, the fire department said.
Firefighters encountered heavy smoke after responding and a second alarm was ordered, the fire department said. A third alarm was ordered as heavy fire appeared, the department said at about 7 p.m. in official tweets.
Just before 8 pm, the Boston Public Library tweeted: "The Central Library in Copley Square is presently without power. We are closed for the evening and apologize for the inconvenience.''
Just after 8 pm, @GarrettQuinn tweeted: "Only thing lit up on Pru right now is the sign. Totally dark otherwise.''
Later, Quinn added: :Traffic cops guiding people around Fens, otherwise pitch black. Impossible to see pedestrians without streetlights."
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