UPDATE - Fire Investigators from Portland Fire & Rescue have listed the cause of the fire at a PP&L substation this morning as "accidental". The cause of the failure of the regulator has been deferred to PP&L. The estimated fire loss is set at $235,000.
At 3:35 am on Thursday, January 7, 2010, Portland Fire & Rescue firefighters were called to N. Clark Avenue and N. Interstate Avenue to the report of an explosion and fire at a substation. When firefighters arrived they reported a fire in the fenced area of a Pacific Power and Light (PPL) electrical distribution facility. Apparently, a piece of equipment in the substation malfunctioned and exploded spreading mineral oil (used as a coolant) around the area. The oil was ignited by the explosion and was burning vigorously. Firefighters isolated the area and let the fire burn and awaited the arrival of PPL employees.
Fighting a fire in a substation is extremely dangerous because of the tremendous amounts of electrical energy that is present. The electricity can travel hundreds of feet through water streams and hose lines to damage equipment and injure or kill firefighters. Standard Operating Guidelines call for removing people to a safe distance and wait for power company workers to turn off the power before attacking the fire. PPL turned off the power to the area at about 5:45 am and firefighters extinguished the fire about 10 minutes later. It is estimated that about 1,200 gallons of mineral oil was spilled and it was all contained in an oil water separator on the site.
Portland Fire & Rescue does not have the total number of people that were without power or for how long the outage will continue.
- 4 Engines
- 2 Trucks
- 1 Heavy Rescue
- Fire Boat
- 28 PF&R Personnel responded to this incident (26 firefighters and 2 chief officers)
January 7, 2010