Burning Transformer May Have Contained PCBs

Residents Asked to Shut Their Windows or Evacuate Saturday Evening

A burning transformer in the El Encanto Heights neighborhood.

A transformer fire at El Encanto Heights caused some concern among neighborhood residents on Saturday, June 21, at 5:50 p.m. Due to an electrical problem in the transformer at 77 Calaveras Avenue, residents were asked to cope with the evening heat and close the vents and windows in their homes or even to evacuate. According to Santa Barbara County spokesperson Capt. Eli Iskow, older transformers contain PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls), an extremely toxic insulator. While most have been replaced by new transformers not containing the toxic, some old transformers still exist. Because it was unknown at the time whether the particular transformer contained PCBs or not, precautions were taken. One to two hours passed before Edison Company arrived to turn the electricity off, allowing firefighters to extinguish the fire.


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