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Officials evacuate 1,000 Grand Geneva guests, staffers over transformer fire

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Darryl Enriquez
Frank Schultz
July 2, 2011
— A minor fire and a related electrical problem led to the evacuation of about 1,000 guests and staff of the Grand Geneva resort just as the holiday weekend began Friday.

No injuries were reported at the resort, located northeast of Lake Geneva.


Guests were asked to leave their rooms and the pool area after the fire started in a transformer at about 4:30 p.m. Friday.


Power was out throughout the resort, said town of Lyons Fire Chief Mike Swanson.


Power was restored at about 8 p.m., said Brett Sundstrom, general manager of the Grand Geneva Report and Spa.


Sundstrom said one residence building and a meeting room would be out of service until a new transformer is installed, but the resort had rooms for all its guests. He said that work was expected to be completed early this morning.


Sundstrom said the problem stemmed from a transformer outside the Grand Geneva that malfunctioned, causing a chain reaction with transformers inside the resort.


Three transformers shut down, but a fourth caught fire, Sundstrom said.


Swanson said the initial call was from someone who thought the transformer might explode, but he was not aware of any explosions.


Firefighters used heat-sensitive imaging cameras to make sure fire hadnít spread into the walls, Swanson said.


About 13 different jurisdictions sent responders to the fire call, Swanson said.


Fire officials kept an eye on other transformers in the resort. Power company workers also responded and tried to reroute power around the damaged transformer.


Guest Craig Irvine of West Lafayette, Ind., was at the pool with his family when staff members told them to leave the pool area because of power surges.


Irvine was walking around the resort, trying to figure how to get his car keys and dry clothing so he and his family could go out for dinner.


Another guest, Jamie Rios of Chicago, was vacationing with her husband and six children. They also were told to leave the pool area.


Rios and other guests told a Gazette reporter they were trying to find rooms elsewhere in the Lake Geneva area but were without success.


Sundstrom said at about 8:15 p.m. that his staff was focused on getting back to routine hotel life. Swanson said no damage estimate was immediately available.



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