A transformer exploded Tuesday at Hoover Dam which is one of the US’s largest hydroelectric facilities. It ended up producing a thick cloud of black smoke and flames that were quickly extinguished.
No one was hurt in the explosion near the base of the dam located on the Colorado River. Electricity produced at Hoover Dam continued flowing to the 8 million people in Arizona, Nevada, and Southern California who rely on it, the Western Area Power Administration said.
“There is no risk to the power grid,” said Jacklynn Gould, a regional director for the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.
The fire broke out around 10 a.m. and was put out within a half-hour, Gould said in a statement.
William Herro, 13, of San Francisco, was on a viewing bridge with his parents when he saw the explosion and then heard a “big boom.”
“A ton of black smoke just exploded in the air. It looked almost like a mushroom and then a fire followed,” Herro said. “I was really surprised and I started filming.”
The explosion occurred on the apron of a building housing turbines that is downstream from the base of the dam, about 25 miles (40 kilometers) southeast of Las Vegas. Hoover Dam is one of the tallest concrete dams in the U.S. at 726 feet (221 meters). Each of its 17 generators can supply electricity to 100,000 households.
Hoover Dam is a baseload source of power, meaning it can respond fast to the need for additional power on the grid or reduce supply.
The administration markets power from 57 federal hydroelectric facilities. Hoover Dam and Glen Canyon Dam upstream on the Arizona-Utah border are among the largest, Meiman said.