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Electrical fire knocks out power

A fire at a Florida Power transformer Monday produced huge flames and created a black plume of smoke that could be seen miles away, but no one was injured.

The transformer, at the Florida Power Palm Harbor Substation at Tampa Road and County Road 1, blew about 6:34 p.m., knocking out power for 5,292 customers. Most were without power for about 19 minutes, Florida Power spokesman Will Rodgers said.

The Palm Harbor Fire Department was notified at 6:34 p.m. of the fire. Florida Power workers dashed into the fenced area around transformer, shutting off switches to turn off the power.

Soon afterward, firefighters doused the transformer with foam to put out the fire.

"The black smoke was intense. The flames were orange and blue," said Kevin Jensen, public information officer for the Palm Harbor Fire Department.

Hossein Azarian and his 12-year-old son, Taj, noticed the power going out at their house, about a mile from the transformer, and saw the thick column of black smoke. They arrived before firefighters.

"It was just unbelievable," Hossein Azarian said.

Jensen said synthetic mineral oils in the transformer apparently caught fire, but a specific cause had not been determined late Monday.

"There was some kind of electrical fault and the breaker blew," Rodgers said. "A piece of porcelain punctured the transformer, which contains oil and the oil leaked to help fuel the fire. But we still don't know what caused the equipment to fail."

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