Portion of Tri-State roof catches fire

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A roof caught fire at the Tri-State Generation and Transmission electric power plant Thursday and Craig Fire/Rescue firefighters doused the flames after scaling to new heights.

Craig Fire/Rescue responded to a call at 12:57 p.m. at the Craig Station south of Craig. Firefighters found flames in the roof between turbines two and three at the plant. According to Fire Chief Roy Mason, the burning roof was about 14 or 15 stories high.

"There was good flames up there," said Mason.

The section of roof had been added with the third turbine. According to Mason, a worker was patching the section of roof earlier in the day and possibly caught the roof on fire with a heating device being used in the repair process. Tri-State officials confirmed work was being done on the roof, but would not speculate on the cause of the fire until after an investigation.

The 2-inch by 12-inch wooden beams that help support the roof and the insulation caught fire. According to Mason, the main obstacle to putting out the fire was the distance firefighters had to cover to reach the fire.

"The fire was in the roof probably 70 to 100 feet above the floor," said Mason. "It was an unusual tactical situation."

Mason said crews were dispatched on the turbine deck, the roof of the plant and on a crane that hung over the structure.

"We put a fire attack crew of six on the crane," said Mason. "Once the crew reached the top of the crane they pulled up hoses with ropes, we shut all of the electrical power to the crane down so there wouldn't be a problem with water and then ran water into the hoses."

Mason estimates the damage in the thousands of dollars, but the fire didn't slow the power plant, according to Dave Longwell, support service superintendent at Tri-State.

"It did not affect service," said Longwell. "All three turbines are still operational."

Mason believes fires at an industrial site such as the power plant are more of a challenge than a normal structure fire, but was pleased with the work of his crew and the help he received from the power plant staff.

"Any time we go to the power plant it is a different situation," said Mason. "With an industrial fire you're always dealing with more space. There are also a lot of hazards you have to be careful of.

"The plant crew was very helpful. Without their help, it would have been a lot more difficult to operate. We couldn't have put out the fire without them."

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