Turbine blaze at UPPCO site: Fire starts during installation

David Archambeau/Daily Mining Gazette Although 20-foot-high flames were shooting out of the UPPCO turbine being installed Wednesday at the Canal Road station, by the time Adams Township firefighters arrived, smoke was billowing out, apparently from oil igniting in the turbine.

HOUGHTON — The Adams Township Fire Department was called to the UPPCO plant on Canal Road on Wednesday morning in response to a fire that broke out in the combustion turbine that was being installed.

“We were called on standby,” Fire Chief Dan Coponen said.

There were no injuries reported, and the fire department was able to leave without getting involved in the incident.

The fire was extinguished by a carbon dioxide fire suppression system within the generator, according to Brett French, UPPCO’s vice president of communications.

While the investigation is still underway, French said UPPCO believes the fire was started by lubricating oil that came into contact with hot generator parts after a malfunction.

Sensors within the generator discovered the fire and activated the suppression system.

“Everything performed as expected,” French said.

As of Wednesday afternoon, French said he was unaware of any power outages being caused by the generator failure.

Some oil was released due to the malfunction, and UPPCO has contracted with an undisclosed local environmental contractor to clean it up.

“It’s not an extensive release,” French said.

The environmental contractor is expected to be working at least through Thursday on the cleanup.

The turbine was being put online to the grid due to the construction of the power generating station in Baraga, according to a source.