A blaze broke out at the Ferrybridge C Power Station yesterday causing one of its towers to partially collapse.
The coal fired power station in West Yorkshire, operated by energy giant SSE, was on summer shut down and was not generating electricity for the grid at the time of the fire, meaning the accident didn’t cause any electricity supply outage.
SSE said in a statement the fire most likely originated in the station’s Unit 4 but also affected Unit 3. The operator said neither of the two units would be turned back on any time soon with Unit 3 possibly returning back to services after 1 November. Unit 4 will remain out of order at least until the end of this financial year. The final decision will be made after proper investigation is carried out.
The station’s operator said its emergency procedures had been activated immediately after the detection of the fire at about 2pm on Thursday with all personnel safely evacuated. No one on the site was injured during the incident.
About 15 fire crews were dispatched to get the blaze under control, which took them until Friday morning.
Huge amounts of black choking smoke caused disruption to the surrounding areas with police warning drivers on the nearby M62 and A1 to be cautious due to possibly reduced visibility.
The power station has been in operation since 1966, and according to SSE's website, has two 198m (650ft) high chimneys and eight 115m (380ft) high cooling towers, which are the largest of their kind in Europe.
The site has undergone major changes recently in the light of the EU's Industrial Emissions Directive, which aims to reduce pollution, and a 65MW multi-fuel plant was expected to start generating power next year.
SSE said they will launch a full investigation into what sparked the blaze, and that they hope to send specialists into the plant tomorrow morning once the station had cooled to begin their probe.
The fire service said a structural engineer had been "notified" about the incident, however, they said, it may take several days for the building to cool down sufficiently to allow safe access for the investigators.
"It is a big structure and it has become very unstable because of the fire,” said Ian Bitcan, area manager of the West Yorkshire fire brigade.
"The company will need to demolish the part of the building affected by the fire, but we are still at the stage where there is enough firefighting that is going on that they cannot start that yet.”