Fire crews battle power plant fire in St. Pete

St. Petersburg, FL - Exhausting work for dozens of firefighters on Weedon Island at the Duke Energy power plant this morning.

Early this morning, what began as a transformer fire suddenly turned into a bigger situation. As firefighters arrived on the scene in northeastern St. Petersburg, they realized a 300 gallon oil reservoir next to the transformer had also caught fire.

As firefighters were battling the transformer fire and the oil reservoir fire, embers flew off into the air intake of another piece of equipment. Inside that air intake, enormous paper filters caught fire.

The paper filter fire has proved to be the most difficult for firefighters to put out and may take all morning.

"The filter itself is approximately 40 to 50 feet tall," St. Pete Fire-Rescue spokesman Lt. Steven Lawrence said. "So we have to get fire crews into the inside, crawling to the top of the filters to completely extinguish it."

A fresh shipment of firefighting foam has been brought to the facility from Port Tampa Bay in Ybor City. Crews from St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport have been using the foam to help put out the electrical and oil fires.

Lawrence said at least 50 firefighters have been called to the scene, which includes a second wave of firefighters to replace the first who arrived just after midnight Monday morning. As of right now, no one is at risk and no power outages have been reported.

Some fire crews will remain at the power plant as Duke Energy workers go through burned equipment piece by piece to make sure the flames are completely out. The process could take all day.


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