About 8,000 people were without power after the excitement. The transformer failure also started a fire at a nearby maintenance shop.

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Ephrata got an unexpected show last night, after a transformer failed at a downtown substation. After a burst of light, thousands of Grant County residents of Ephrata, Soap Lake and Quincy were left without power.

“At the peak of the outage, we had about 8,000 customers that were completely dark,”  said Thomas Stredwick, a spokesman for the Grant County Public Utility District, which operates the substation. A maintenance shop near the substation also caught fire and was handled by the Ephrata Fire Department. 

There were no injuries, Stredwick said.

The transformer failed about 7 p.m. Wednesday, and many people captured video of the excitement.

“What you’re seeing is a sudden release of energy, that’s the flash you’re looking at,” Stredwick said. “This is transmission equipment. Transmission equipment has higher voltage than distribution equipment that serves homes. It’s going to be a more impressive display when you have a failure like this.”


Stredwick said the utility was able to restore power to most people in Soap Lake and Quincy within about 45 minutes. Power was returned to the majority of Ephrata residents by 2:30 a.m. He said about 200-300 customers were without power Thursday morning.

“We’ve had crews out working all night and into the morning to get the remaining customers back online,” Stredwick said.

It’s not clear why the transformer failed, Stredwick said, adding that the utility will investigate once power is restored to its customers.