A fire inside the John W. Keys III Pump Generating Plant at Grand Coulee Dam has hospitalized one worker and caused another to be treated for smoke inhalation, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation said.
All plant employees were evacuated after smoke was seen rising from the pumped-storage hydropower project Monday morning before fire fighters from Reclamation’s Grand Coulee unit and other area departments were able to put it out.
Officials said they believe the fire was caused by a switch gear failure in one of the plant’s six pumps or six pump generators. The agency said four pumps and five pumped generators were undergoing maintenance when the fire started, however, while the remaining units weren’t in operation.
“Reclamation will undertake a thorough investigation into the incident,” the agency said.
HydroWorld.com reported in 2011 that USBR had issued a draft Environmental Assessment for the modernization of the plant’s pump-generating equipment.
The 314-MW John W. Keys III pumped-storage plant is one component of Reclamation’s 6,809-MW Grand Coulee project.