Duke Energy and the Nuclear Regulatory Commissioner are investigating the cause of a transformer fire that occurred Thursday morning in Huntersville.
The fire started at 8:30 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 9 at the “switch yard” which is located across the street (Hwy 73) from the actual McGuire plant, approximately a mile away and off site from the two reactors at McGuire, Huntersville Fire officials said.
Fire officials said the fire happened within a transformer and initial speculation was that it was caused by some sort of equipment failure.
HFD said Station 2 was initially called to an outside fire on Horseshoe Creek Dr, but as Engine 22 pulled out from the station they saw a large black column of smoke in the sky near McGuire, realized and adjusted their response to Hwy 73 instead of Horseshoe Creek.
As they responded to McGuire they were updated by Dispatch of a transformer fire at the switch yard. Upon arrival, Engine 22 found a large transformer, energized with over 500,000 volts, on fire with Duke representatives, including members of their fire brigade, awaiting firefighters’ arrival.
Engine 22 immediately requested two tankers, as well as a tanker from the East Lincoln Fire Department to the scene to assist. Their crews were able to extinguish the fire using 50,000 gallons of water and 400 gallons of foam.
According to HFD, transformers contain oil that helps insulate the transformer. They said this oil burns very black smoke when ignited, which is what many residents saw. HFD crews remained on scene for more than six hours.
Duke Energy is investigating the cause of the fire and the Nuclear Regulatory Commissioner was notified of the incident. The HFD fire chief and deputy fire chief responded and had command of the scene on Thursday.
HDF said this type of incident is one that they train for annually with Duke on how to handle. They said Duke is a very supportive and open training partner, and they’re happy to report that all of their training and partnership paid off on Thursday.
*McGuire Transformer Fire FINAL Update* All Huntersville FD crews have cleared from McGuire. Today’s event required over 50,000 gallons of water & 400 gallons of foam. The incident today is one that we train for, in partnership with Duke, annually. pic.twitter.com/xPLc3P4CRM
— Huntersville Fire (@Huntersville_FD) November 8, 2017