Corps investigates fire at Oregon’s 100-MW Detroit Dam

The Corps of Engineers is investigating the cause of a June 19 electrical fire at its 100-MW Detroit Dam powerhouse on Oregon’s North Santiam River. The project’s generating equipment will be off line indefinitely.

The fire broke out shortly after midnight on the lower level of the powerhouse. Workers were evacuated. No injuries were reported.

The Corps implemented emergency procedures to extinguish the fire and secure the facility. Pumps powered by auxiliary power were put in service to keep the powerhouse from flooding.

Following clearance from local emergency authorities, a Corps team equipped with air-purifying respirators mobilized to assess the damage to the powerhouse and investigate the fire’s cause. While a dollar estimate and the cause remain to be determined, Corps spokesman Amy Echols said June 22 the fire is known to have caused extensive damage to the plant’s electrical system.

During the outage, water typically released through the powerhouse’s two turbines is being released over the spillway to maintain river flow and to provide for fish listed as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act.

Detroit Dam is one of 13 multi-purpose dams operated by the Corps in the Willamette Valley. The 463-foot-tall, 1,523-foot-long concrete gravity dam stores water for generation, flood control, irrigation, recreation, navigation, and downstream water quality improvement.

The Corps said the outage does not affect its ability to generate at other Willamette Valley facilities.

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