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Paynesville Press - July 25, 2001

Fire at power station causes outage

By Michael Jacobson

Substation in flames A fire and malfunction at the Xcel Energy station in Paynesville caused delays on Highway 23 and left 1,000 power customers without electricity on Monday afternoon.

Paynesville police and fire department personnel responded to reports of a fire by the station on the corner of Highway 23 and Lake Avenue at 12:15 p.m. on Monday. Eyewitnesses reported a fire on a power line crossing Highway 23. Fire subsequently appeared within the station.

The fire department members and police rerouted traffic on Highway 23 and established a one-block clear zone from the Xcel Energy compound.

The fire within the station popped four times, according to assistant fire chief Denny Nacey. The fire fighters could not try to put out the electrical fire, but could only wait for it to burn out. They kept a perimeter and stood ready in case the fire spread.

Xcel Energy, according to a spokesperson, received a call about the power outage at 12:30 p.m.

Most customers had their power restored within a half hour, according to the power company, but some had to wait an hour and 45 minutes for power to be rerouted and restored.

While the cause of the fire had not been determined by press time, Xcel Energy reported that the damage was done to a breaker. This box is used to cut off electrical current. It was not in use when the fire started.

Getting the power back on solved the immediate problem, but Xcel Energy will still need to repair the equipment failure at the station, its spokesperson reported.

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