Fire at Deerhaven Power Plant Cooling Tower

Press release from Gainesville Fire Rescue

At 3:40 p.m. today, Gainesville Fire Rescue (GFR) crews were alerted of a large commercial building fire at the Gainesville Regional Utilities (GRU) Deerhaven Power Plant. On arrival crews found heavy smoke and fire coming from the south side of the cooling tower. Workers from GRU and GFR’s Confined Space Stand-by (CSS) team, led by GFR’s Lt. Herbert Ennis, were working nearby and immediately requested additional fire resources, ensured that all employees and contractors were out of the building, and began working to contain the fire. 

Click on the video below to see the fire:

There were a total of 37 firefighters from both GFR and Alachua County Fire Rescue (ACFR), as well as safety workers from GRU and GPD officers for scene control, working together to control the incident. According to the department’s press release, the crews had the fire out in twenty-eight minutes. The Incident Commander, District Chief Ron Thomas, attributed the quick stop of the fire to “the early actions of the GRU workers, GFR’s CSS team, the building’s fire protection system, and the rapid response of fire rescue crews”. The fire was contained to the southern end of the building, preventing the total loss of an asset valued at 10 million dollars. 

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), U.S. fire departments respond to a fire every 24 seconds with an estimated 11,000 fires occurring in industrial settings resulting in $508 million worth of damage per year/nationwide. No disruption of GRU services are expected due to the fire. No injuries have been reported. The cause of the fire is still under investigation. 

    • That’s an extreme coincidence…there goes our carbon
      Footprint. That was a lot of CO2 emissions adding to
      Climate change. Maybe it’s their way to collect the insurance money and turn the plant
      Into a garbage burner and they’ll use municipal waste
      In addition to trees to make the steam to generate electricity.

  • That’s strange, I worked on those things for years they are made of plastic, steel and lots of water flowing thru them.

    • The unit must be in a maintenance outage. All those cars parked in that field are from outside workers. When the unit is running it has water running thru it that makes a fire unlikely. It would be like catching a waterfall on fire.
      But when the unit is offline the interior of the tower is filled with a wooden structure that is an ideal fire location.
      The 10 million dollar cost of the tower is minor, the big cost, millions of dollars a day comes from knocking Deerhaven two off line from lost revenue. The unit cannot run without that tower. Hard to tell from the photos above but maybe just the first cell, one out of ten was destroyed and the may be able to run Deerhaven two at reduced load.
      Fire is a major concern during a shutdowns, especially if outside contractors are doing work on that tower. As I noted above the tower is an extreme fire hazard when it is shutdown for any long period and the wood construction dries out. They had a minor fire on that tower years ago but put it out before it did major damage. Caused by outside workers during an outage.
      I spent years on and inside that cooling tower before I retired.

      • Maybe they can take solace in the fact that they found some outside contractors who met their Diversity/Inclusiveness/Equity checkbox requirements. Good job, guys!

  • Wait for it…here comes the next excuse to raise utility rates.

    Wonder what “other” excuse “Two Face” Ward & the other dogs and ponies will be offering up instead.

  • No doubt the commissioners will make the absolutely wrong decisions about what to do and how to handle this, even messing up the insurance claim. The “renewable” power, renews after growing another tree for 70 years after burning it up and releasing all the carbon in 1 minute, is now gone. Good thing they have cheap, plentiful, and efficient carbon fuels! Maybe the equity officer can solve this?

    • They are probably too worried about more important things like suing UF for ‘dissing’ them. Of course this power plant inferno is even more evidence of GRU’s core competency and reasons not to select them to operate a power plant for your university.

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