Alaska News

Power plant fire knocks out electricity in Emmonak

An early morning fire tore through the power plant in Emmonak and has left the community without electricity.

Village police officer Carolyn Kitsick said responders were first alerted around 10:45 a.m. Tuesday when one of the four generators at the community plant caught fire. The plant, run by the Alaska Village Electrical Cooperative, shut down as a result of the fire and firefighting operation, knocking out power for the entire community.

Kitsick said a combination of volunteers and members of the fire brigade got to work on the blaze and spent several hours containing the flames.

"They got a fire truck out here, and fire extinguishers," she said. "We were busy running around, [and] got it turned off."

She said firefighters "had to take off some of the stuff off the roof" of the power plant "to spray some water" onto the flames.

The fire was soon brought under control but wasn't extinguished until shortly before 1 p.m. Tuesday. No one was injured and the cause of the blaze remains unknown.

Power remained out throughout Emmonak as of Tuesday evening.

Steve Gelbert is AVEC's manager for projects development. He said power will likely remain out for the rest of the day and possibly for some time.

Gelbert said the community's three other generators were not damaged in the fire and should be able to provide power once they're up and running, but he could not say how long the power would remain down.

Gelbert said the generators are "between 25 and 35 years old," about the same age as the building itself. While the blaze was limited to just one of the four generators, he said, the severity of the fire damage to the structure itself, or the cost of potential repairs, was not yet clear.