Fire shutters part of D.C.


While the city still is reeling from anthrax scares that have shut down Capitol Hill and caused a U.S. postal worker to become seriously ill, a chunk of downtown D.C. was sealed off Monday morning after an underground electrical fire knocked out power and phone services for 189 buildings.

Several media-related organizations operate in the blocks around 17th and L Street NW, including Broadcasting & Cable's Washington office. The National Association of Broadcasters and National Cable Television Association appeared to be running normally, although evacuated people were milling in the street all around the NAB's headquarters this morning. Disney's Washington office was unable to take phone calls.

Washington's main power provider, Pepco, and phone service, Verizon, each had many trucks in the area working on the problem, and fire and police departments had cordoned off about four city blocks.

Pepco has had problems with underground explosions in downtown Washington for a year, periodically shutting off parts of Georgetown and Dupont Circle. Pepco has attributed the explosions to an aging system. - Paige Albiniak