UPDATE: Power Restored to Thousands in Dearborn After Fire Causes Outage Thursday

Around 4,000 DTE customers were without power for 4-12 hours after a van parked near a power substation caught fire in west Dearborn.

11 p.m.: Power appears to be restored to all Dearborn homes and businesses affected by the outage Thursday.

The restoration efforts—aided by dozens of DTE workers—happened in phases. Some regained power as early as 1 p.m.; the last blocks waited until after 10 p.m. for their lights and heat to come back on.

The buzzing of generators could be heard coming from many Dearborn homes.

The cause of the van fire that spurred the outages was still unknown Thursday night.

4:20 p.m.: Around 2,000 Dearborn homes and businesses were still without power late Thursday afternoon after a fire resulted in an outage that morning.

According to DTE representatives, power has been restored to 2,000 of the 4,000 customers who originally lost power.

"We should be able to get the rest of the customers restored by late Thursday evening," DTE spokesman John Austerberry said.

He elaborated that because the van that caught fire was parked close to a cabinet containing equipment, "those (circuits) all have to be checked and cleaned before we can put them in service."

Additionally, Austerberry said that DTE was deploying a back-up plan in case it was determined that some equipment would need to be replaced, resulting in a longer outage. That plan entails bringing in generators to temporarily restore power to affected homes and businesses.

"The generators are being deployed," Austerberry said, "but it's not like hooking up your household generator."

Because DTE's generators are complicated to hook up and get running, the energy company is beginning that process even as crews attempt to repair the original circuits.

There is no estimate as to when individual neighborhoods could expect to have their power restored.

2:10 p.m.: DTE representatives are now reporting that they were able to restore power to 1,000 of the 4,000 customers who lost power. However, spokesman John Austerberry said that restoration times for the rest of the affected areas are unknown.

The power outages run east from Outer Drive to Oakwood Boulevard and the Rouge River. North to south, the outages run from Ford Field to Rotunda.

Austerberry said that DTE plans to mobilize generators to restore power for additional customers, but plans have not been finalized as to when and where that will occur.

DTE is restoring power circuit by circuit, and expects to have a better idea of restoration times, as well as the extent of the damage, later this afternoon.

1:30 p.m.: DTE is estimating that power will be returned to the areas south of Michigan Avenue by 3 p.m. Thursday. There is no estimate for when power will be restored north of the affected area—including along Michigan Avenue.

Business owners from around the downtown area lamented having to shut down their businesses for the day, but were happy that the fire was contained.

Some said they could smell the smoke from their buildings. Nada Younes of Lulu By Design said that when she entered her business on Howard Street Thursday morning, "the smell of smoke was heavy."

Some residents near Monroe Street and Outer Drive were reporting that their power came back on around 1:30 p.m.

12:30 a.m.: West Village drive from Tenny to Monroe remained closed as firefighters and DTE workers assessed the damage from the fire.

With power still out, traffic was heavily backed up on Michigan Avenue heading both directions. An alternative route is advised.

Bryant Library and Sacred Heart School were also closed due to the power outage, as well as numerous businesses in the west downtown district.

The city confirmed that Bryant will remain closed throughout the end of the day Thursday.

11:24 a.m.: Dearborn firefighters have put out the blaze at the DTE substation in west Dearborn. No one was injured in the fire.

DTE Energy says that 4,000 customers are without power in Dearborn. Fire officials said power likely will be out through the end of day, though they are unsure when power will be restored.

DTE officials are assessing the damage at the substation.

Power is out at DuVall Elementary School and Dearborn High School, but students are finishing out the remainer of the day.


Firefighters are on the scene of a blaze at the DTE substation in downtown Dearborn at Michigan Avenue and Howard.

The fire, which appears to be under control, started in a van near the substation. The substation is not on fire, but officials had to shut down power because of the threat of the fire.

Firefighters also have sprayed the substation to cool it down.

DTE reports that approximately 1,600 customers in Dearborn are without power.

West Village Drive is blocked off to traffic, but Michigan Avenue remains open (though some traffic signals are off).

Patch will update this article with more information as it becomes available.

Correction: This article originally stated that students were sent home from DuVall Elementary. That is incorrect.

Jan Gaynor November 29, 2012 at 04:23 PM
They are closing Sacred Heart School due to no power....
melissa pinch November 29, 2012 at 06:05 PM
The information about duvall elementary releasing children early is incorrect.
becki kain November 29, 2012 at 06:32 PM
where are we supposed to go with our cats and our dogs tonight?
becki kain November 29, 2012 at 07:23 PM
I asked a reasonable question. According to Dr Heinhold, my animals can't be in 40 degrees for long.
becki kain November 29, 2012 at 07:23 PM
I don't know what your issue is, DES.
City of Dearborn (Editor) November 29, 2012 at 07:57 PM
A comment has been deleted from this thread for violating our terms of use, which prohibit name-calling and the use of profanity. Please refer to our terms here: http://dearborn.patch.com/terms. Thanks!
City of Dearborn (Editor) November 29, 2012 at 08:00 PM
At this point, Becki, I would say don't worry about it. We'll have an update from DTE within an hour that should give us a better idea of when we can expect to have our power back on. If homes will be without power overnight, we'll look into some options for where you might be able to take them. My cats are at home with no power in a cold house, too, so I'll certainly look into it!
becki kain November 29, 2012 at 08:04 PM
thanks. just worried. our 6 year old german shepherd dog is still recovering from something so i'm overly worried
becki kain November 29, 2012 at 08:14 PM
i posted to ford's internal facebook too, to tell me people to look at the outtage map before trying to drive on michigan (west bound) to keep more people off of michigan ave
John Hetzler (Editor) November 29, 2012 at 10:02 PM
Here's a list of pet-friendly hotels in the Dearborn area, just in case: http://book.officialpethotels.com/city/?refid=1385&refclickid=1385~B~Pet+Friendly+Hotels+Dearborn&rs_cid=20064376&rs_lmark=&rs_lat=&rs_lng=&rs_amen=&rs_address=&rs_downtown=&rs_class=&rs_name=&rs_rid=&rs_city=Dearborn%2C+MI&rs_rooms=1&rs_brand=&rs_subcid=&rs_chk_in=&rs_chk_out=&rs_lang=&rs_curr_code=#1mp
Lee Jacobsen November 29, 2012 at 10:16 PM
A glance at a bigger picture. This was just a van fire, something very easy to arrange and execute. Look at all the turmoil that it caused. If an 'accident' can cause this much damage, think of what a coordinated attack by miscreants bent on making a name for themselves can do, especially in Dearborn. Used vans, normally non-descrpt, casually parked by other power stations, erupting in flames and making a statement. Why? Why do kids learn to be suicide bombers? Something to think about, while we worry about our own concerns......
becki kain November 30, 2012 at 12:36 AM
THANK YOU! good to know!
becki kain November 30, 2012 at 12:40 AM
what would you like me think about, instead of my own concerns? I walk our dogs twice a day and keep an eye out on all of our neighbor's houses. I called the police a few ago for our neighbor whose garage was open for about 12 hours. i texted my neighbor when I saw them both leave, didn't realise one returned on bike, and their garage door suddenly opened. I'm looking out for the neighborhood and I cant stop a burning van.
Dearborn Taxpayer November 30, 2012 at 02:19 AM
This DTE substation has been an issue for many years in Dearborn. It is poorly planned and maintained. A concerted effort by DTE and the Dearborn administration including public meetings and input a few years back seemed to help reduce the constant and chronic outages. From the photos it appears that one of DTE's own vehicles caused this latest outage which has left me and thousands of other Dearbornites and businesses without power for about 9 hours. This latest outage essentially put me and many others out of business for the day. Unfortunately as a utility monopoly there is little we can do to hold DTE accountable for yet another service outage and poor restoration performance. Yet, I'll continue to pay my ever increasing DTE electric bill even though I implement energy conservation and savings actions and actually use less energy than previous years. I sure wish I had an alternative to DTE and some choice of electric service providers.
Tom Laundroche November 30, 2012 at 04:43 AM
Go to www.dteenergy.com/claim to read DTE Energy service quality and reliability standards. You are due a credit for some power outages.
becki kain November 30, 2012 at 01:15 PM
they have never paid me and I've been out over 20 days in one year
Pam November 30, 2012 at 01:48 PM
Until a few years ago, sustained power outages in the summer were a regular occurence in the Outer Drive/Monroe area. We never received compensation either.
AC November 30, 2012 at 02:06 PM
Someone has been watching too many 'Homeland' episodes.
Tom B November 30, 2012 at 06:41 PM
I received a $25 credit when our power was out in the Ford/Tel area. But you have to request it and there are some stipulations that I don't remember. DTE is not knocking at your door to tell you about these things.
becki kain November 30, 2012 at 06:45 PM
I did request it with all the dates but no love
City of Dearborn (Editor) November 30, 2012 at 09:24 PM
Hey, everyone, just wanted to give an update that the Fire Department is still looking into the exact cause of the fire in the van. We expect to have an answer some time next week, and will post a story as soon as we know. If you want to make sure you don't miss that news, sign up for the Dearborn Patch newsletter: http://dearborn.patch.com/newsletters. Thanks!
Bob Muir December 11, 2012 at 06:20 PM
Hi Jessica, Still awaiting an explanation how a DTE truck caught fire parked so close to the substation. Thanks in advance for an answer. Bob
Lee Jacobsen December 11, 2012 at 06:45 PM
Jessica, do you honestly expect the real reason for the fire to be revealed? Shades of '24', it has to be something controversial, but reported as mudane, to squelch any panic among the populance. The sub stations all have bathrooms, perhaps the DTE folk were on a break, and left the engine running, a battery explosion, or a lit cigarette inside, who knows? Odds are , we won't be told the real reason , but that is why it is fun to speculate.


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