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Underground electrical blast; 4 downtown L.A. buildings evacuated

February 18, 2009 | 12:12 pm

Authorities evacuated four downtown L.A. buildings and closed part of Spring Street today after an explosion in an underground electrical vault, fire officials said. There were no reports of casualties.

It was not immediately clear what caused the explosion, which sent heavy gray smoke billowing from a manhole in the 100 block of West 4th Street, said d’Lisa Davies, a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles Fire Department.

She said the blast caused “significant power disruption” in the area. The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power had not received any reports of outages so far. Firefighters were dispatched to the scene at about 10:30 a.m., along with an electrical crew from the DWP, Davies said. Four buildings that were without power were evacuated while firefighters determined whether there were any electrical fires, she said.

Spring Street is closed between 3rd and 5th streets while the investigation is underway, Davies said. Traffic is being diverted between Broadway and Main streets and from 3rd to 5th streets.

-- Alexandra Zavis