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NEWORLEANS-- A transformer blew near a hotel in the Central Business District, sending fire and smoke flowing out from the ground and causing power outages.

Eyewitness Larry Lovell sent in the picture above of fire and smoke billowing from an electrical grate in front of International House Hotel on Camp Street.

The transformer, which is below ground, exploded late Wednesday afternoon around 5 p.m.

The outage in the CBD is precautionary as Entergy crews investigate the scene.

Approximately 475 customers in a four to six block radius were affected. An Entergy spokesperson said the customers were mostly businesses.

'We obviously could not put water on the fire right away because of the electricity, so we stretched two lines -- one to protect the outside exposure, one to protect the inside of the hotel exposure,'said 2nd District Fire Chief Chris Mickal. 'Entergy responded at our request immediately and eventually shut the electricity off to about a four or six block grid here, which is what the situation is now, and we were able to put the fire out.'

Mickal said the firefighters had to rescue multiple people in elevators after cutting the electricity off.

Entergy is hoping to have power restored by midnight.

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