CHESHIRE — A small fire was reported around 10 a.m. Thursday at the General James M. Gavin Power Plant in Cheshire.
The power plant is owned American Electric Power.
According to Tammy Ridout, manager of media relations for AEP, the fire started in the generator step-up transformer, which is what takes the generator voltage and increases it to match the transmission line voltage so that power can leave the plant.
The plant is connected to the grid by 765 kilovolt transmission lines — the highest rated voltage in the U.S.
Ridout said that Meigs County fire stations, including Middleport, Pomeroy and Rutland fire departments, were called to the scene, but the flames were contained before they arrived. The fire was extinguished by a deluge system, or an activated sprinkler system, she said.
“Unfortunately, when you are dealing with large electrical equipment and there is some type of equipment failure, it can cause a fire,” Ridout said. “We have systems in place such as fire suppression systems, the fire brigade at the plant, training for our employees and relationships with local emergency responders and in this case, those systems worked and we were able to put the fire out safely.”
There were no injuries reported. Currently there are 275 employees at the plant. The plant is currently assessing the damage.
Middleport Fire Chief Jeff Darst said the fire occurred in what is known as Unit 2, where the tranformers are kept behind the plant where they can’t be viewed from the road. However, smoke could be seen rising above the plant from passing motorists. Darst said the fire was contained by the Gavin Fire Brigade by the time he and his crew arrived, but that his crew, as well as Pomeroy and Rutland, all helped extinguish the flames.
The Gavin Power Plant is located in Cheshire up the road from the smaller Kyger Creek Power Plant. It is a 2.6-gigawatt coal-fired power station — the largest facility of its kind in Ohio and one of the largest in the nation.
A September 2014 report titled “America’s Dirtiest Power Plants” by Environment Ohio Research and Policy Center ranked the Gavin facility No. 6 on its top 10 list, calling its emissions “equivalent to 3.8 million passenger vehicles.”
Reach Lindsay Kriz at 740-992-2155 EXT. 2555.