Cause of explosion at East Grand Forks substation still unclear

Published: Jan. 3, 2020 at 4:35 PM CST
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Officials say it's still unclear what lead to an equipment malfunction at an East Grand Forks substation just before nine Thursday night.

The explosion caused power outages across many parts of town, but Mia Smith says at first, she thought it was just a prank.

"All of a sudden I realized the whole entire apartment complex is out. Everybody is out. There's no street lights on, the garage lights are not going on or anything like that," Smith said.

A look out Smith's window showed just how serious trouble was brewing right down the road on Highway 2.

"We saw everything being engulfed in flames down that way, and we were all just looking outside like, 'What the heck is that?' We didn't know if it was the beet plant or if it was something else," Smith said.

And as hundreds of others in East Grand Forks peered out their windows, what looked like the Northern Lights danced in the sky.

"We were just scared. Like honestly, I believe in aliens and stuff like that. So I was like, 'Oh my gosh, we're being attacked! Like, what is going on!?'" Smith said.

EGF Water and Light says power was fully restored shortly after 11 Thursday night.

"We may never know exactly what happened. It was raining, things like that," General Manager Keith Mykelseth said.

Mykelseth says he doesn't remember anything like this ever happening before, and says thankfully no one was hurt in the incident.

Crews were on scene throughout the day assessing damage and costs, and hopefully will determine what caused the fiery wreck by the end of the weekend.

"I think we've got it figured out. We spent the whole morning talking about it. Minnkota Power was gracious enough to come out right away and talk about it. And we're gonna get going and fix it as soon as possible," Mykleseth said.