Sometime between 11AM and 11:30AM this morning, an underground transformer exploded at the intersection of O'Farrell and Polk Streets, causing smoke and flames to shoot out of manhole covers.
It also knocked out power over a four block radius for at least five hours, which included a number of street lights on Van Ness Avenue.
This created a horrendous traffic jam which then proceeded to become wider as it backed up other key intersections in San Francisco.
A few of the public safety employees were quite helpful, such as the policeman above helping a parked car get out of an alley under yellow tape...
...and the Department of Parking and Traffic officer above.
Most of the public safety employees, though, were rude and unhelpful, with special pride of place going to a group of motorcycle cops who arrived around 2:30 PM, parked in front of the AMC movie theatre complex, and then strutted around like self-important thugs.
Frenchy's Adult Book Store on Geary near Polk had an amusing cross-sell sign advising its customers to try the Locker Room dirty movie arcade around the corner on Polk Street.
Smoke was still steaming from underground at 3PM.
At about 4:30 PM, power started coming back to most of the neighborhood, although some neighborhood liquor stores and a few bars never bothered closing in the first place.
A street person told me there had been three different explosions throughout the day and it was the final one that caused a huge plume of fire to explode above the street.
Pacific Gas & Electric is probably responsible but I'm sure they will eschew any and all blame. My favorite comment was from WSanders over at SFist:
"In our neighborhood, PG&E has determined that the best way to upgrade their infrastructure is to wait for it to catch on fire and then replace it. Looks like they're rolling out their policy to include the City."