Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

St. Petersburg electrical fire knocks out power to section of Fourth Street N

ST. PETERSBURG — Firefighters and electric company workers were on the scene of a fire Tuesday afternoon that knocked out power to Orange Blossom Catering and several other homes and businesses around 220 Fourth St. N.

Fire trucks surrounded the area, traffic was diverted from Fourth Street and brown smoke could be seen at the back of the building.

Duke Energy spokesman Sterling Ivey said the loss of a transformer left roughly 3,000 people without power downtown for about 20 minutes in the early afternoon. About 256 customers still did not have power at about 3 p.m., he said. Service was expected to be restored to everyone by approximately 7 p.m.

Ed Shamas, the owner of Orange Blossom Catering, said a transformer behind his building failed shortly after 1 p.m. He said flames and a shower of sparks slid down the electrical pole that held the transformer.

"It wasn't like it was a tremendous explosion," he said. "It was almost like lighting a firecracker."

Orange Blossom still did not have power at about 3 p.m. Tuesday.

Shamas said a few of the businesses around him did not have power in the morning. Duke Energy workers responded and were there most of the day. Then the transformer blew up, sparking the wider outage.

Inside Orange Blossom, Shamas said he keeps about five coolers stocked with meats, vegetables, and desserts — "Who knows, $20,000 worth of food or something," he said — all of which were at risk because of the outage.

Shamas, who has run the catering company for approximately 40 years, said the supplies could last about 12 hours — but if the outage persisted, he planned to rent refrigerated trucks to save his stock.

The caterer was done with his appointments for the day when the power went out, and Shamas said he should be able to meet all obligations on Wednesday, including art clubs and a mental health services customer in Tampa.

"One way or another, we'll get them food," he said.

Randy Wojcik, 52, works at Orange Blossom and lives in an apartment building just behind the broken transformer. He also did not have power midafternoon Tuesday and planned to stay at his girlfriend's house seven blocks away overnight.

"I have food in my fridge and everything," Wojcik said. "But the main thing is, it's extremely uncomfortable with no fans or air conditioners in those apartments."

Times staff writer Kameel Stanley contributed to this report. Zachary T. Sampson can be reached at or (727) 893-8804. Twitter: @zacksampson.

St. Petersburg electrical fire knocks out power to section of Fourth Street N 07/02/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, July 2, 2013 4:27pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Why the Lightning would consider trading Jonathan Drouin

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — This summer, the Lightning could trade one of its most dynamic young players ever.

    Wing Jonathan Drouin could be the only piece that Tampa Bay has to acquire a badly needed top-tier defenseman.
  2. Ryan Hunter-Reay running strong as he seeks a second Indianapolis 500 title

    Auto racing

    Ryan Hunter-Reay isn't a big jewelry fan.

    Ryan Hunter-Reay, who won Indy in 2014, is a contender for a second title in today’s 101st running. He qualified 10th, had the third-fastest practice lap and his team is looking strong.
  3. As Trump's overseas trip ends, crisis grows at home (w/video)


    President Donald Trump headed home Saturday to confront a growing political and legal threat, as his top aides tried to contain the fallout from reports that his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, is a focus of investigations into possible collusion between Russia and the president's campaign and transition teams.

    President Donald Trump waves as he exits Marine One on Saturday at Naval Air Station Sigonella in Sicily, Italy. After a nine-day trip overseas, the president is returning to Washington.
  4. Tributes pour in for Zbigniew Brzezinski, an 'influential voice' in politics (w/video)


    WASHINGTON — Well before he went to the White House in 1977, Jimmy Carter was impressed by the views of foreign policy expert Zbigniew Brzezinski. That Carter immediately liked the Polish-born academic advising his campaign was a plus.

    Foreign policy expert Zbigniew Brzezinski died Friday.
  5. One year after deaths, Sunset Music Festival kicks off with emphasis on water and security

    Public Safety

    TAMPA — Before the beat drops, or even builds, you hear Steve-O.

    "If you don't get water you're lame!"

    "Hey! Free water! Come on!"

    Steve "Steve-O" Raymond motions to guests making the line to grab free water bottle at the entrance of the Sunset Music Festival on the grounds of the Raymond James Stadium parking lot in Tampa. ( LUIS SANTANA   |   Times)