Washoe Fire Shuts Down Power Plant

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UPDATE 5:20: A more immediate danger is a power outage and downed power lines. The Reno Fire Chief says that there are approximately 2,000 customers without power right now. He said that if the public sees downed power lines to consider them electrified.


The Steamboat Geothermal Complex is partially shut down as a result of the Washoe fire.

"We have evacuated half of the facility that was compromised by the fire," said Paul Thomsen, Director of Policy and Business Development for Ormat Technologies, the operator of the plant.
"We have done our emergency action plan to shut it down and evacuated. We have notified the utility."

He said that he couldn't speak to the stability of area's power grid once portions of the plant were shut down. He referred those questions to NV Energy.

"We can shut it down very quickly. We have evacuated all non essential personnel. We are waiting for direction from fire crews," Thomsen said.
"We are monitoring the situation very closely."

He said that the biggest danger there is a material called Isopentane, a "working fluid." However, it is also protected by fire suppression systems.

But that is not all that is protected by fire suppression systems. "We have our own fire suppression equipment and we watered it (the area) down prior to evacuation."

"My message to the concerned public we shut down the facilities that were in jeopardy and we are taking all the appropriate precautions. Part of the plant is shut down. If the fire moves through we could start it right back up again."

However the operators have not done a damage assessment yet. "We haven’t done that evaluation at this time," and reiterated that there is "Minimal danger from the facility. The fact that they have been shut down really minimizes any potential problem at the site."