Saturday, November 10, 2007

excitement in Springfield

We heard a loud-ass boom earlier this evening, followed by many smaller (but still big) sounds--like someone banging on an empty dumpster with a hammer--accompanied by emergency vehicle sirens heading toward Springfield's very own coal-fired power plant. And a constant loud sound like a jet engine that wasn't going anywhere.

Here's the story so far from the State Urinal-Register:

CWLP fire under control, but damage appears severe

Last Updated 11/10/2007 9:28:33 PM


An explosion in part of City Water, Light and Power's Dallman generating station this evening caused major damage to the city's power generating complex.

The explosion occurred about 6:50 p.m. No one was injured.

The city's biggest single electrical generator, the Dallman 3 plant, was still operating, and the city was obtaining power from the national electric grid. As a result, aside from brief and isolated power outages early in the evening, officials do not expect customers to experience any further power interruptions.

Springfield Fire Department spokesman Bob Reside said the explosion -- apparently one large explosion, followed by a series of about a dozen smaller ones -- took place in the power plant complex's main building, a four-story structure off Stevenson Drive near Dirksen Parkway and Interstate 55-72.

A large section of an exterior brick wall on the building's fourth floor collapsed into the interior of the building during the fire, Reside said.

"This just shows how dangerous this has gotten because of damage to the structure," Reside said. "We have to expect further collapse."

The fire was fueled by oil leaking from damaged and blazing power transformers and boosted by a steady wind. However, firefighters were reporting about 9:30 p.m. that the oil flow was being cut off and the situation was gradually being brought under control.

Foam was being used to battle the oil fires, not only because water is ineffective against an oil fire but also to avoid polluting nearby Lake Springfield with oil, Reside said.

The cause of the explosion was still undetermined as of 9:30 p.m., with the main suspects apparently being a transformer malfunction or an explosion of flammable coal dust. In any case, at least two transformers caught fire.

"Transformers contain oil and it is burning and has spilled out of the transformers," Reside said about 8:30 p.m.

An unknown number of employees were inside the plant when the explosions occurred, but all evacuated safely.

There was no danger to the public from chemical fumes, and the fire posed no threat to nearby businesses or residences, Reside said. Firefighters kept an eye on several nearby hydrogen tanks, however.

"We have nozzles fixed on them so they don't explode," he said.

Witnesses reported one large explosion, followed by 10 to 15 smaller ones.

Micki Dickerson, who was at Capital City Shopping Center, said the first explosion "sounded like the loudest thunder you ever heard, it shook the windows and the building.

"The first explosion was real loud and the second almost as loud. We went outside, and then it sounded like gunfire --- boom, boom, boom. Then it stopped for a second and started right back up."

The explosion was followed by a steam release from the power plant.

“Now, it sounds like you're standing too close to a jet," she said shortly after the blast. "It's still going on. You can't hear the sirens for the sounds of the power plant."

A resident of South 13th Street e-mailed The State Journal-Register to say "the entire back half of my house vibrated at ten till 7. It felt like something hit the house.

"Then I heard a long series of what sounded like gun shots. At least a minute or so in length. I thought a house in my neighborhood was on fire or had been damaged."

She likewise reported a sound like "an airplane engine" as steam was released from the plant.

Several suburban fire departments, including Rochester and Sherman, were called to staff Springfield fire stations while city firefighters respond to the CWLP incident. Sherman also sent an aerial truck to the power plant after a city truck experienced mechanical problems.

Police detoured motorists away from the area of Dirksen Parkway, Taylor Avenue and Stevenson Drive, and interstate off-ramps were closed near CWLP. However, streets started to be reopened before about 8 p.m.


Anonymous said...

Its good that everyone survived and their asses are safe. I am wondering how often they check on these important devices to make sure its functioning correctly???

Hakim Baker said...

here's the official story. I haven't read it all--it's piles of dishes day here at the Uplift Church of Beauty.

Yeah, forget about terrorism--the infrastructure is vulnerable to itself!

Hakim Baker said...

I loved these remarks from the fire department spokesperson Bob Reside:

"This just shows how dangerous this has gotten because of damage to the structure," Reside said. "We have to expect further collapse."

Yep. We have to expect further collapse.

Anonymous said...

I think they are about 20 years too late worrying about polluting Lake Springfield. You know, Lake Lepto.

werebrock said...

i'm glad you're alright. expect more such noises

Abigail said...

some of us have made up a mayhem theory about this sort of thing- industrial accidents perhaps not accidents?

i hear asbestos and other yucky stuff is in lake springfield, and now the lake is off limits indefinitely. :D

sharqi said...

Yes, and don't worry about that smell. It's just coal dust!