BEVERLY - Crews from four area volunteer fire departments responded to a transformer fire at American Electric Power's Muskingum River Plant near Beverly late Monday afternoon.
The fire was caused by a transformer failure that occurred around 4:30 p.m., according to Suzanne Priore, AEP Ohio spokeswoman. No employees were injured and no customers lost power, Priore said.
First units from Beverly's Volunteer Fire Department arrived at the scene within 13 minutes, according to firefighter Jim Ullman.
"There was a lot of heavy smoke, but the fire suppression system was working, so the fire was confined to the transformer," he said.
Ullman said crews were unable to begin dousing the transformer right away because electrical power was still flowing through the unit. "We weren't going to put any water on the transformer until it was de-energized," he said.
Once the electricity was cut off, a truck from Morgan County's M&M Volunteer Fire Department applied foam to smother the blaze.
Washington County Sheriff Larry Mincks said around 6:15 p.m. that the fire was under control.
Priore said the company was doing an assessment of the cause of the fire but did not expect any information to be released until today.
In addition to the Beverly and M&M departments, volunteer units from Watertown and Barlow also responded, along with the AEP facility's own fire crews.
"It was a great example of how all of these departments work together," Ullman said, adding that local fire companies train at AEP and other area plants at least once a year to handle such emergencies.
A 31-year veteran with the Beverly fire department, Ullman said the power plant has its own fire response unit, so area fire companies are rarely called to the facility.
"This one was just too big for them to handle alone," he said.
Local fire departments also responded to the facility in January 2007 when an explosion killed the employee of a supplier who was delivering hydrogen to the plant. The explosion was caused by a massive release of hydrogen gas.