May 30, 2014 10:48 AM
COLORADO SPRINGS - The May 6 fire that put the Martin Drake Power Plant out of commission started after a mechanic made a critical error, according to a preliminary report released by the Colorado Springs Fire Department. The report says that the mechanic was told to change a filter on one of the three turbines at the plant, and the valves carrying oil to that specific filter had been shut off. The mechanic began to remove the wrong filter. With the valves to that particular filter not shut off, oil squirted out and landed on nearly 1000-degree steam pipes. The oil burst into flames and started the large fire. The mechanic later told investigators that he just wasn't "thinking" when he reached for the wrong filter.
The veteran mechanic has been placed on administrative leave while CSU conducts an internal review. The fire department says the mistake was purely accidental. The mechanic will not face charges.
CSFD has not released their final report on the fire.
Since the fire, the Drake plant has been shut down, requiring Colorado Springs Utilities to rely on other facilities, as well as purchase energy. CSU says this process is much more costly and recently asked City Council to approve a 7.4 percent rate increase for residential customers. This week, City Council approved the rate increase.
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