Crews mopping up fire at Thermalito power plant
THERMALITO — CalFire-Butte County has accessed all five floors at the Ronald B. Robie Power Plant west of Oroville and are mopping up a fire that started Thursday morning.
Nancy Vogel, California Department of Water Resources assistant director of public affairs, said there isn't as much damage as expected.
DWR won't go in to assess the damage for a couple of days and it will be about a month before they will know its extent.
She said water deliveries will continue as usual, and won't be interrupted to local farmers.
The fire started around 7:32 a.m. Thursday at the hydropower plant at 2950 Grand Ave., at the western outfall of the Thermalito Forebay.
Firefighters attempted to fight the fire inside the building, but withdrew because of life-threatening hazards and zero visibility due to smoke.
Today the smoke dissipated and CalFire was able to get inside and attack the fire.
Fire crews sent a robot into the building this morning to determine the conditions inside, said Marie Olive at the dispatch/command center. The fire was still burning in the same area, she said, but there was much less smoke.
Fire crews exercised caution because they didn't want to enter under hazardous conditions and have the building collapse, she said.
Meanwhile, DWR bypassed the power plant to continue water deliveries, according to Vogel.
"This will not impact our service at all," Vogel said.
The power plant is a very small part of the State Water Project, Vogel said. Its output is used to pump water. She said the department will find a way to replace the electricity from the Thermalito plant.
DWR will rebuild the plant, she said, which will cost millions of dollars.
The five-story building has one story above ground and four others below. Four generating units are inside, according to a press release.