Tri-State fire sends one to hospital

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One person was sent to The Memorial Hospital for possible smoke inhalation when a fire broke out Monday at Tri-State Generation and Transmission, Fire Chief Chris Nichols said.

Fourteen firefighters and three trucks from Craig Fire/Rescue responded to a fire at about noon that started in a breaker cabinet that contained 6,900 volts of electricity, Nichols said. A short in the system is responsible for the fire, but the cause of the short is unclear, he said.

Nichols said the fire was quickly extinguished because of the technical help offered by Tri-State employees.

"It potentially could have created a lot of damage," he said. "It was with their knowledge of the plant that we were able to get the fire out quickly."

Spokesman Jim VanSomeren with Tri-State said damage from the fire slowed operations in Unit 2 but that it should be fully operational by today. It was running at half its wattage, or about 221 megawatts, on Tuesday. The cabinet generally runs on 428 megawatts.

"It was mostly smoke and not that much fire," VanSomeren said. "It was quickly contained. We anticipate it to be running at 100 percent (today.)"

Firefighters from Craig Fire/Rescue and emergency workers had their busiest Labor Day holiday on record, Nichols said.

Firefighters and emergency workers responded to a number of calls during the three-day weekend, but the distance between calls posed logistic challenges, Nichols said.

"We had enough staffing to handle multiple calls," Nichols said. "We have to remember that we rely on firefighters being available when calls come in. Being on call means we never know who is going to show up, considering family commitments."

Amy Hamilton can be reached at 824-7031 or ahamilton@craigdailypress.com

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