Fire destroys Stevens Village power plant

Posted: Wednesday, September 04, 2002

FAIRBANKS (AP) -- Residents of Stevens Village formed a bucket brigade from the Yukon River and kept a power plant fire from spreading to nearby buildings.

The village power plant, however, was completely destroyed.

''Without the community responding with buckets we would have lost the community center and clinic, and the village water plant, plus the tank farm,'' said Randy Mayo, tribal administrator and village council member.

Mayo said he was alerted to the fire about 7:30 a.m. Thursday by the power plant manager. While Mayo drove across the village to retrieve two water pumps and hoses, villagers formed a bucket brigade, carrying water from the Yukon River.

Mayo said the power plant was totally engulfed in flames within 20 minutes after the fire was discovered.

Once the pumps arrived, villagers started pumping and spraying river water to keep the buildings -- some within 25 feet of the power plant -- from going up in flames.

Mayo said the mechanical malfunction was probably the result of one of the three generators overheating, throwing a rod and blowing itself up.

The power plant provided electricity to about 90 people living in 25 households in the village as well as the clinic and water plant which provides treated water, a laundry and showers to villagers.

Alaska Energy Authority arranged to have a new 180-kilowatt-hour replacement generator delivered to the village, said project manager Kris Noonan.

An Alaska Army Guard Blackhawk helicopter flew the generator, held in a sling, to the village on Friday afternoon.

AEA was already in the process of building a new power plant at a different site in Stevens Village, Noonan said. A foundation for the building has already been built.

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