Img_534272_3Volunteer firefighters and first aid squad members stood by at the Liberty Hose firehouse on White Street during the widespread power outage Tuesday evening. (Click to enlarge)

Burglar and fire alarms went off all over town, prompting the police chief to keep one shift working past quitting time and call in additional personnel to deal with the obvious emergency.

Traffic at major intersections was moderately chaotic, until fire police arrived to direct vehicles, and workers from the public works department deployed barricades and temporary four-way stop signs at major crossroads.

Two men were briefly trapped at the second story in elevators — one at the Red Bank Middle School, the other at the Riverside Towers high-rise — before being rescued by firefighters.

The blackout of 2008 turned out to be far less than it might have been. Temperatures were moderate, in the low 50s. And at just over 90 minutes for much of Red Bank, it was nothing like the hellish five-day series of outages and brownouts that followed a transformer fire near Newman Springs Road in early July, 1999, a period in which temperatures soared close to 100 degrees.

But Tuesday night’s outage served as a good test for emergency response personnel, and the performance was “excellent,” according to Fire Marshal Stanley Sickels.

Elevatorelvis_2Custodian Elvis Ventura was all smiles as he emerged from the elevator in which he was briefly trapped at the Red Bank Middle School.

Police Capt. Pete DeFazio, the borough’s emergency management coordinator, was out of town when the incident occurred, said Sickels, who’s also the borough administrator. But other personnel “knew the drill,” he said.

“This isn’t the first time we’ve been through something like this,” he said.

The Star-Ledger reports that the outage was caused by an electrical transformer fire in Neptune. Jersey Central Power & Light spokesman Ron Morano told the newspaper that the fire caused some high-voltage transformers to trip off-line. He added the utility had not determined the cause of the blaze.

The Sledger says the outage left more than 20,000 customers in Monmouth, Ocean and Middlesex counties without service, and at its height hit at least 23 of Monmouth County’s 53 communities, according to Gary McTighe, acting director of Monmouth County’s Office of Emergency Management.

Power started coming back on around 7p; the lights on Monmouth Street downtown came back on at 7:06, and by 9p, all power was believed to have been restored to Red Bank, Sickels said.

Riverview Medical Center, meanwhile “was probably one of the least of our worries,” he said, because of redundant systems the hospital uses, as well as a generator backup to supply power to life-support systems.

A hospital employee, making her way through the darkened Globe Street parking garage, told redbankgreen at the height of the outage that “the auxiliary lights are on. It’s not as bright as usual, but the lights are on.”

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