Coal Fire at Tosa Power Plant is Under Control
By: Jan Uebellherr, Milwaukee - Wisconsin Journal Sentinel
Firefighters worked for hours Sunday to bring a coal fire under control at a We Energies power plant on the Milwaukee County Grounds in Wauwatosa.
The fire, reported about 7:15 a.m., was confined to a 25-foot-deep hopper on the sixth floor of the building, Wauwatosa Fire Chief Robert Ugaste said in a news release. No one was injured.
Firefighters brought the blaze under control and We Energies officials were unloading the coal from the hopper to figure out how the fire ignited.
We Energies expects to finish unloading the coal either Monday or Tuesday.
The plant, one of We Energies' smaller facilities, sits on about 15 acres. It provides heat and electricity to the Medical College of Wisconsin, Children's Hospital of Wisconsin and Froedtert Hospital, said We Energies spokeswoman Cathy Schulze.
Power was not affected for any of the facilities, nor is it expected to be in the coming days, she said.
The fire started in an area where coal is held before it's fed into one of three boilers, Schulze said.
"It's where coal is stored as it's making its way through the process," she said. The coal should not be on fire at that point, she said, and the utility is investigating how the coals began to smolder.
A unit from the Mitchell International Airport Fire Department was called in to pump foam using a 100-foot aerial ladder, and firefighters in the building then used hand lines to apply the foam.
The foam slowed the fire, but they stopped using the foam over concerns that water in the foam would damage electrical panels on lower floors.
Crews will work for the next few days to remove the smoldering coal, Schulze said.
"We're hoping that we can get all of that coal unloaded out of there by tomorrow or Tuesday," she said, noting that the coal can't be burned because it's saturated with water from the foam used to get the fire under control.
Learn more about coal-fired power plant hazards here.
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