Local News

Drake Power Plant workers got out of burning plant quickly

Drake Power Plant Fire Reaction

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - It was a frightening morning for the Drake Power Plant workers and people working and living nearby when a fire started Monday morning (5/5/14).

A Colorado Springs Utilities employee had minor injuries. Paramedics treated and released him outside the plant. A second person, a contractor went to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries. A few workers say everyone worked together to quickly evacuate the plant.

Smoke billowed out of the Drake Power Plant around 9:30 a.m. The typical white plume was black on Monday.

"You go from just working, to all of a sudden, I mean it was within five seconds, boom! That whole plant was full of smoke," said scaffolding builder Vincent O'Donnell.

O'Donnell said he was on the fifth floor, 90 feet off the ground when the fire started.

"We all just everybody get out. We made sure that all our guys got out. The plant did a good job and everybody did a good job of getting everybody out of there," said O'Donnell.

A contractor who's been in the business for 35 years says this isn't the first time he was working when something went wrong.

"In Comanche we had this happen and we had this happen in Virginia. It's kind of a common thing. We're trained to do this," said Eugene Sanchez.

Police officers were worried the pressure building up inside could cause another problem. So people living and working nearby voluntarily evacuated.

"My mom came in. She was like guys we've gotta leave, and I was like why what's going on? She's like the plant just exploded, and I was like what? And she was like we just gotta leave," said evacuee Corey Wetzel.

The Red Cross opened an evacuation center for people who wanted to cool off and get away from the chaos.

"I didn't think anything was going to happen where we lived," said Thomas Sullivan who lives a few houses away from the plant.

It's a situation everyone needs to be prepared for.

"If you work in an industrial area, you're very aware of the risks, but for it to happen like that, you know, don't get complacent. You have to be ready for when stuff like that does happen," said O'Donnell.

The Red Cross shut down that evacuation shelter shortly after the voluntary evacuations were lifted this afternoon.

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