Local News

Utilities: Drake Power Plant fire was the result of human error

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - Colorado Springs Utilities confirms that the Drake Power plant fire was caused by a mechanic who changed the wrong filter. That mechanic is now on paid administrative leave.

A fire duty report from the Colorado Springs Fire Department was also released.

Utilities spokesperson Steve Berry confirmed the information Friday morning (5/30/14) on KRDO NewsRadio 105.5 FM and 1240 AM.

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

The report said the pipes were burning at about 1,000 degrees. 

Firefighters said the fire started in Unit 5 of the power plant.

The mechanic said in the report he didn't have enough time to correct the problem because he saw a big ball of fire. 

The report said green tags were put on the filters to show what needed to be changed.

The mechanic's supervisor showed him a drawing that the bottom filter needed to be changed. 

The mechanic said when he went back to make the repair, he wasn't thinking and he went on to change the wrong filter.

Another mechanic mentioned in the report said the fire could have been worse if it had hit the bunkers full of explosive coal.

Colorado Springs Utilities workers say the oil filtration system was put in four years ago.

An administrative support representative with Colorado Springs Utilities said she heard an employee yell fire. She said her whole office window was orange and it looked like a solid wall of flames.

Berry says Colorado Springs Utilities is hiring a firm from Chicago to do another investigation to ensure the safety of the workers.

The utility said it wants to have at least part of the plant running this summer.

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