Fire at plant sends three |

Fire at plant sends three

Paul Shockley

A fire damaged a coal-feeding conveyor belt Monday at Craig Station, keeping a 408 megawatt-generation unit off-line and sending three workers to the hospital.

James Vansomeren, spokesman with Tri State Generation and Transmission, said the cause of the fire, which was called into Craig Fire and Rescue at about 8 a.m., was still under investigation.

“It appears some coal dust in that feeder self-ignited,” Vansomeren said.

The fire occurred as the plant’s unit three was being brought back on-line, a process, which takes about 24 hours from a cold start-up, Vansomeren said.

Unit three was taken off-line Friday evening to repair a leak in a tube delivering high-pressure steam into the generation process, he said.

The fire was put out roughly an hour after crews had arrived on scene.

Three workers a shift supervisor and two plant operators were taken to The Memorial Hospital to be treated for smoke inhalation, Vansomeren said. The unit was not occupied at the time of the fire, and it was unknown who called in the blaze, he added.

The spokesman said that the start-up process for the third unit would continue through Monday, as the unit can operate with four of five operational coal feeders.

“We should be up to full capacity later today,” he said.

Even with a unit down, operations aren’t that severely hampered, he said.

“If it were the middle of summer, we could buy some more power on the open market, or re-route power.”

Paul Shockley can be reached at 824-7031 or at

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