Fire darkens parts of city

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 24, 2007

DEMOPOLIS &8212; An early morning fire at an Alabama Power substation plunged the downtown area into darkness for about an hour Saturday.

Ronnie Snellgrove, regional manager for Alabama Power, said the fire broke out at approximately 4:30 a.m. While he is not sure what caused the accident, he believes one transformer shorted out and caught fire before spreading to three other transformers.

Interim Fire Chief Tommy Tate said fire crews were on scene for an hour-and-a-half putting out the fire and cooling the agents. He attributed quick response by Alabama Power personnel for the fire department&8217;s ability to control the blaze and prevent dangerous chemicals from escaping and spilling into the river.

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Tate said Randy Baker and Jeff Couch, both of Alabama Power, were dispatched to the site to assist the fire department.

The fire department used a foam solution to extinguish the fire because of an oil used in the transformers. He said each transformer contained 500 gallons of insulating oil.

Tate said the quick response also prevented the pots holding the oil inside the transformers from rupturing and the oil draining into the environment.

The substation fire caused a power outage in the downtown area. The outage reportedly lasted about an hour.

Snellgrove said Alabama Power has been able to handle the power load of the substations with other substations. He said crews will come in and rework the substation in the coming weeks before the heat of summer arrives and drives energy usage upward.

By that time, Snellgrove said, Alabama Power will have the substation repaired.