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Wal-Mart

Smoke from an electrical generator rises from behind the Walmart in Auburn on Wednesday.

AUBURN | The Walmart in Auburn reopened Wednesday night after being closed for more than a day due to electrical issues.

The store had closed on Tuesday when a transformer malfunction cut off power to the Grant Avenue building. It reopened for a short time late Wednesday morning when a generator was installed, but closed again for several hours before reopening around 6 p.m.

The Auburn Fire Department said the generator initially produced levels of smoke from the back of the building. This smoke was not indicative of any hazard, according to AFD.

However, because the generator was not running smoothly and the power was fluctuating, the store evacuated shoppers at around 1 p.m.

Burt Deferio, Wednesday's shift manager, said another generator was then brought in to serve as a replacement.

These units are designed to power the entire store, he said.

"Once we get the new generator, we'll be up and running," Deferio said Wednesday afternoon.

And a couple of hours later, the store was open.

The initial electrical issues were first apparent at 6:45 a.m. Tuesday when the Grant Avenue store started experiencing several problems, according to Brad Lyons.

Lyons, the store's shift manager on Tuesday, said the store experienced electrical surges in the lights while all of the store's refrigeration units completely shut down.

With the refrigeration units down, Lyons said the store had no choice but to close until the problems were resolved.

Deferio said the issues stemmed from a malfunctioning transformer.

The new generator will power the store until a new transformer is installed, Deferio said, but it is yet unknown when the transformer would arrive for installation.

During the shutdown, staff was redirecting traffic away from the store, informing customers that the store was closed. Additionally, Lyons said staff worked to make sure the temperature-sensitive foods were maintained at proper conditions as per Walmart's policies.

"We're just doing everything that we can as far as cleaning up the inside of the store," he said.

Deferio said products were being stored on four external refrigeration units.

When the problems were first realized, NYSEG was called in to assess the problem, and Lyons said NYSEG technicians had shut down the store's power at around 8 a.m. Tuesday. At that time, Lyons said the store's alarms were triggered, which resulted in a response from the Auburn Fire Department.

NYSEG technicians cleared the scene, making way for Walmart electricians to work on the problem.

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Staff writer Greg Mason can be reached at (315) 282-2239 or greg.mason@lee.net. Follow him on Twitter @CitizenMason.

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