Fire at bioenergy plant could have been worseASHLAND, WI -- Firefighters recently prevented a blaze at a bioenergy plant in northern Wisconsin from potentially raging out of control.

Investigators believe a wood grinder surrounded by conveyors that transport wood caught fire.  

 More than a dozen firemen battling the fire did so without the benefit of fire hydrants, according to Fox News 21. They had to shuttle tankers full of water, ultimately spraying more than 8,000 gallons to squelch the blaze.

Firefighters and Xcel were fortunate that the conveyor belt stopped just a few feet away from a storage bin holding some 500 tons of wood. Fire officials said if the fire had reached the bin, the situation would have been far worse.

While the wood cogeneration was idled, the plant continued to produce electricity using coal and natural gas.

In 1979, Bay Front laid claim to being the first investor-owned utility power plant in the nation to burn waste wood to generate electricity. Since then it has used more than 5 million tons of waste wood, including harvested local biomass and used railroad ties.

Last year the plant burned more than 253 million tons of waste wood to produce more than 280 million kilowatt-hours of electricity.

Posted by Rich Christianson

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