Energy transformer catches fire, campus experiences widespread power failure

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November 27, 2017

9:45 PM

The morning of Monday, Nov. 27, a Dominion Energy transformer located near the Botetourt Complex failed, causing a small fire and burning the primary and secondary conductors of the transformer unit. There were no injuries; however, most of the campus was without power for several hours, and the Botetourt Complex and Keck Lab remain without power.

According to College of William and Mary spokesperson Suzanne Seurattan, the power in the Botetourt Complex and Keck Lab will likely be out for several days.

Seurattan said that the outage was not preventable or due to any outside circumstances.

At this point, every indication is that this was simply a case of equipment failure of the Dominion transformer, which unfortunately does sometimes occur,” Seurattan said in an email.

“At this point, every indication is that this was simply a case of equipment failure of the Dominion transformer, which unfortunately does sometimes occur,” Seurattan said in an email.

Associate Vice President for Campus Living Maggie Evans said that Botetourt residents will be staying in rooms at the Governor’s Inn and Woodlands Hotel until power is restored. They will be able to travel to campus via a shuttle service available from 3 p.m.-2 a.m. Nov. 27 and 7-1 a.m. starting Nov. 28.

“We are not sure how long it will take [for Botetourt to regain power],” Evans said in an email. “The transformer and conducting wires all need to be replaced, which will involve potentially invasive digging for proper repairs. The secondary lines that run between buildings will take time to replace. We are hopeful to have power restored sooner than Friday, but have asked students to plan for the full week in the event it takes longer to restore power. We know this is disruptive and want to the students to know we are working around the clock to address the situation. We appreciate their patience and ask that they continue to follow instructions in order to make the situation run as smoothly as possible.”

It is unclear how long the Botetourt Complex will be without power. Gillous Harris ’21, a Botetourt resident, was in Sadler when the power went out campus wide.

“The power went off, and I was confused, and the group chat was blowing up,” Harris said. “People were like, the power’s out, there was a fire, and I was nervous.”

Harris was in class when the emergency call was sent out, and he was unable to answer it.

“My [resident assistant] told me we were going to be in a hotel for three to five days. I don’t know which hotel or if it’ll be three days or five days or beyond,” Harris said. “It seemed pretty unofficial.”

Harris’ biggest concern is the timing of the power outage.

“I have a lot of work right now, so it’s really inconvenient,” he said.

Claire McClintick ’21 agreed with Harris regarding the timing of the power outage and fire.

I was driving back with my dad, and then I got all the texts, all like ‘Don’t got to your hall,’ and I was like ‘Cool! I need to move back in,’” McClintick said.

“I was driving back with my dad, and then I got all the texts, all like ‘Don’t got to your hall,’ and I was like ‘Cool! I need to move back in,’” McClintick said.

McClintick said she believed that the school did a good job in communicating with students and felt that the incident was more of an inconvenience.

“I don’t really care. I just want internet so I can do my homework and not go to Swem all the time and [find power] to charge my things,” McClintick said.

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