Albany library closed by electrical fire - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Albany library closed by electrical fire

June 29, 2005

Albany -- The Dougherty County downtown library is expected to be closed four to five days, while repairs are made following a small electric fire Wednesday morning. Firefighters and Water Gas and Light workers agree that they were lucky. The fire could have been much worse.

Just before 7 Wednesday morning, power lines running from a transformer behind the Central Library on Pine Avenue shorted at the spot it connects to the building. Witnesses say fire and sparks were flying into the air, just inches from this main gas line. Library Director Mike Dugan said "It could have pretty ugly. But we really dodged a bullet on that one,and are very grateful."

The library was built in 1985, and WG&L supervisors say expansion and contraction over the years caused the power lines to rub together and finally shorted here. The current burned the wires in a conduit under the library building across the length of the building, to this distribution panel, which also shorted out.

Smoke filled the library, but that was the extent of the damage inside. Dugan said "No book damage at all. We were very fortunate, there was no damage anywhere in the building, other than the little bit of smoke."

The downtown library will remain closed until the power can be restored. The transformer and the burned power lines under the building will have to be replaced. WG&L supervisors say it could be four to five days. Dugan said "Once they get the power back on, our doors will be wide open. We'll wait a little while to cool the building down, so our customers will be comfortable."

Library workers had the windows open and fans blowing the smoke out. They will have the building cleaned while repairs on their electricity continue. But Dugan says he is happy that the damage was very minor, compared to what it could have been if that gas line ruptured.

The fire disrupted Internet service to libraries across Southwest Georgia. The Downtown Library is the hub for the Internet service to libraries in several counties. Late Wednesday afternoon the library's Internet Service was still out, and officials said it could be Thursday before it is restored.

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