5-Day Fire Out at MN Coal Plant

Friday, July 24, 2015 @ 06:07 PM gHale

It took five days, but a fire is out in the coal storage barn at Xcel Energy’s Sherco power plant near Becker, MN.

Workers saw residual coal and a rubber door seal smoldering last Thursday and they called the Becker Fire Department, said Xcel spokesman Tom Hoen. He said other fire departments helped out over the weekend as hotspots developed.

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The fire was officially out Monday morning and all firefighters left except for a Becker pumper truck that stayed as a precaution.

Hoen said there were no injuries and no significant equipment damage, but company officials have not estimated the costs yet. He said Sherco’s three generating units continued to operate normally.

A catastrophic failure in Sherco’s Unit 3 turbine in 2011 caused more than $200 million in damage and took 22 months to fix.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation, but officials believe coal dust on a rubber strip that connects the walls to the ceiling might have spontaneously combusted.

The three-unit Sherburne County Generating Plant is one of the largest coal-fired power plants in the Upper Midwest. It supplies enough electricity to power more than 2 million homes and businesses.