Cause Unknown In CoGen Plant Fire

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The fire at the Carthage Energy plant on West End Avenue was in a room with a lot of wires.

Those wires are connected to what's called switchgear as part of the energy recovery process.

"Upon arrival, the building was fully, in terms of smoke, heavy smoke," said Carthage Fire Chief Sean McHale.

Battling that smoke was bad enough, but things briefly got worse.

During the firefighting effort, there was an explosion where the fire was taking place.

It forced firefighters to evacuate the building.

The explosion, though, turned out to have been a sudden release of steam.

And it shook the building and it was actually a pressure relief," said Carthage Fire Department head driver Brian Draper.

Investigators wrapped up their on-scene probe saying the cause of the fire was undetermined.

But fire officials say they'd always kept an eye on the plant because of its fire potential.

"We've always known that, you know, it's an electrical generation facility, so you have to be smart about electricity," said McHale.

The village code enforcement officer, Robert Ball, said there is no structural damage to the plant.

Ball said company officials told him they plan to replace the damaged equipment, but had no timetable for that.

A team was en route Tuesday afternoon from Cayuga Energy, the Carthage plant's parent company, to examine the damage.

Firefighters from West Carthage, Natural Bridge, Lowville and the Town of Watertown were called to assist at the scene.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014
, Watertown, NY

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