Update from FD: Power Outages, Lightning Strikes in Maplewood

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PSE&G is reporting scattered power outages in Maplewood as of 2 p.m. on July 3. See the PSE&G power outage map here.

Outages were more widespread this morning, with PSE&G reporting thousands of customers without power in Maplewood.

Power went out at Maplewood Middle School sometime after 10:30 a.m. this morning where summer children’s programs were taking place. The building was evacuated first; then children were allowed back in to call parents for pickup, according to one parent.

Maplewood Fire Chief Michael Dingelstedt reports that the fire department responded to an alarm activation at Maplewood Middle School at 11:01 a.m.

“Students were evacuating the building upon our arrival,” wrote Dingelstedt in an email, “which is normal procedure for a fire alarm activation.”

The fire departement investigation revealed that there were power issues in several areas of the school that appeared to be a result of a problem with an electrical sub-panel. PSE&G and district electricians were responding to correct the problem.

The reason school was closed for the remainder of the day is because the fire alarm could not be reset as a result of the power issue. Dingelstedt said that the New Jersey Uniform Fire Code requires that the alarm system be operable when the building is occupied.

District officials anticipate that repairs will be made in time for the school to re-open on Monday.

Regarding power outages throughout town, Dingelstedt said that the fire department responded to thirteen weather-related alarms between 6:49 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. last night, including two confirmed lighting strikes.

“Fortunately, neither resulted in a fire. The first, on Richmond Ave. at 6:56 p.m., resulted in the top portion of the chimney being damaged, with no additional damage to the home.”

The second lightning strike occurred at 7:25 p.m. on Warren Rd.

“Investigation revealed a hole burned through the wall above a third-floor window into the attic,” said Dingelstedt, “resulting in a burning odor and a broken window. Interior walls in the attic were opened to check for fire extension, with none found. Two other alarms were reported of houses struck by lightning, but there was no evidence of a lightning strike at either residence following investigation.”

The Fire Department also responded to a report of flames coming from an outlet at a Park Road home at 11:17 a.m. this morning. Dingelstedt said that arriving firefighters found a burned outlet in a kitchen wall, with the inside of the wall smoldering. Firefighters opened the wall from the exterior and quickly extinguished the fire. The cause of the fire appears to be due to an electrical problem.

“Damage was kept to a minimum due the the quick response of firefighters,” said the Chief.

HistoryNusantara has contacted Mayor Vic DeLuca to ask about the power outages reported this morning and if there are plans to postpone July 4 festivities due to the weather forecast (South Orange has moved its July 4 events to July 5).

This story will be updated.

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