Niagara Gazette

Local News

March 20, 2014

Transformer fire sends several fire companies to power plant Wednesday night

Transformer fire sends several fire companies to power plant

Niagara Gazette — An explosion in a transformer triggered a fire Wednesday night at the New York Power Authority’s Robert Moses power plant.

The fire started at 7:10 p.m. in one of the 13 step-up transformers at the Moses plant. The plant is the NYPA Niagara Hydroelectric Project’s main electricity generating facility.

When the first firefighters arrived on the scene, flames and heavy smoke were erupting from the transformer’s housing unit. NYPA Western Regional Manager Harry Francois said the plant’s automatic water deluge system was activated by the flames. 

Francois also said NYPA immediately activated the plant’s emergency management response plan. 

It took volunteer firefighters, led by the Upper Mountain Fire Company, about an hour and 20 minutes to extinguish the blaze. Lewiston Fire Company No. 1, Niagara Active Hose Company, Sanborn Fire Co. and the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station Emergency Response Unit were also on the scene.

“We’re grateful to the first responder organizations that helped to extinguish the fire,” Francois said.

There were no reports of injuries. NYPA said there no power service disruptions to the plant’s customers as a result of the fire.

The authority also said there was no environmental impact on the communities surrounding the power facility. 

The transformers at the Moses plant are used to increase the voltage of the electricity generated there. That allows the electricity to be distributed over high-voltage power lines to customers outside of Western New York.

A NYPA statement, released to reporters later Wednesday night said the fire was contained to the single transformer where it started. A damage assessment is under way and the authority is looking into the cause of the explosion.

“We’ll have to take a look at that,” NYPA Community Relations Director Lou Paonessa said. “It may be (later today) before we know (the cause). It is way too hot to look at (Wednesday night).”

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