Drake power plant fire ignited when mechanic changed wrong filter, Utilities official said

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - Colorado Springs Utilities says the Drake power plant fire was caused by a mechanic who changed the wrong filter, according to KRDO-TV.

Utilities spokesperson Steve Berry said on KRDO NewsRadio that when the filter was mistakenly changed, it caused oil to spray on hot pipes, causing a flash fire.

The four-alarm fire on May 5 was initially ruled an accident. Investigators determined the fire was the a result of "free flowing lubricating oil coming in contact with high temperature steam pipes which resulted in the flash fire." Investigators said the oil kept flowing, feeding the fire.

Firefighters said the fire caused "very serious" damage to at least one turbine and a control deck inside the plant.

The fire took 120 firefighters and crew three hours to get the fire under control.

Firefighters reported heavy flames on three floors of the coal-powered facility, which houses three turbines and normally supplies power to one-third of that community. The three generator units were first brought online in 1962, 1968 and 1974.

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