Multiple fire crews fight transformer and oil fire in western Rowan

Published: Apr. 19, 2016 at 11:29 AM EDT|Updated: Apr. 19, 2016 at 6:23 PM EDT
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David Beaver-WBTV
David Beaver-WBTV

SALISBURY, NC (WBTV) - Fire crews from all over the county responded to a fire at the Southern Power plant, 5755 NC Highway 801, on Monday night just after 10:30 pm.

Fire officials on the scene said that a transformer caught fire.

One resident told WBTV that "two explosions" shook his house and that there "were flames higher than the trees and fire trucks coming from everywhere."

Other residents described windows rattling and the ground shaking.

Hazardous materials units, including one from the North Carolina Army National Guard at the Rowan County Airport, responded to the scene.

The fire was out shortly after midnight.  There were no injuries.

Rowan County Emergency Services Chief Frank Thomason said that the fire was confined to the transformer which contained mineral oil used to cool the unit which caught on fire.

Thomason said that while transformers rarely malfunction, this was a much larger unit due to being at a power generating facility.

Thomason praised plant personnel as well as firefighters and emergency responders for they way the situation was handled.

There was no immediate danger to nearby residents or property according to Thomason.

A statement from Southern Power said that the company took the plant offline as a safety precaution: "At approximately 11 p.m. ET on Monday, a transformer fire occurred affecting Plant Rowan Unit 1. Employees at the plant contacted first responders, who extinguished the fire before midnight. All plant personnel are safe and accounted for. The entire plant was taken offline as a precaution when the fire occurred, and the facility remains offline in a safe condition as we investigate the cause."

Plant Rowan is a natural gas-fueled, simple-cycle combustion turbine electric generating and combined-cycle plant located, according to the company web site. It is also capable of burning fuel oil as a backup.

The power produced at Plant Rowan is sent to other southeastern states and is not used locally.

Southern Power is owned by Southern Company based in Atlanta.

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