Home > Arc Flash, Electrical Fire, Industrial > OH: Arc Flash Shuts Key Tower Down

OH: Arc Flash Shuts Key Tower Down

CLEVELAND, Ohio:  An electrical explosion inside a basement vault Monday afternoon forced the evacuation of about 2,500 workers from Key Tower on Cleveland’s Public Square.  No one was injured, Cleveland Fire Department spokesman Larry Gray said, but a security guard said it took about 30 minutes to evacuate the building’s 58 floors, where the workers were greeted by heavy rain. Gray said the electrical fire was quickly extinguished by the sprinkler system in the basement. The explosion occurred around 2 p.m., but Gray said when firefighters arrived within five minutes, they found the system had been properly working and the fire had been contained.

“What the explosion did do was knock out power to the first four floors, and smoke infiltrated the first two floors,” Gray said. “As a precautionary measure, we had the total building evacuated.” Key Tower officials announced by 3 p.m. that the building was closed for the day. No one was let back in except employees who had left valuables at their work stations — and they were accompanied by security. The company was also providing updates on its Twitter accounts,  including information for employees who have questions.

Employees had mixed feelings about the evacuation – generally not happy going out in the rain, but thankful that there was no rendition of “Towering Inferno.” “I’m on the seventh floor, and I could smell something coming from the loading dock area (which is above the basement),” said Dennis Walsh, a Lakewood resident. “It was more like steam than smoke…nothing was bellowing out.” Donna Jacobs of Sagamore Hills, who works with Walsh in KeyBank’s securities lending department, said she didn’t mind the work interruption. “I’d rather be in the rain than in a building on fire,” she said.

Janet Averman of Eastlake, an employee of Squires Sanders LLP on the 49th floor, said the incident reminded her of a similar one in 2003, when the building lost power and she had to walk all the way down to the exit. “At least this time the elevator was still working,” she said. “God was on my side this time.” It was an easy day at work for Craig Uterhark of Gate Mills. “You can’t call today a mundane Monday,” he said. “I’m glad nobody got hurt. My shift starts at 2 p.m., and I walked in the building and walked right back out. For me, I got a nice day off, even if it is raining.”

Story via cleveland.com

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