Oct 29, 2013
From staff reports
Electricity on Ohio University's Athens Campus is fully operational following a system fault in the Lausche Heating Plant and small explosion within a chilled water pump in the plant at around 8:30 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 28.
The explosion resulted in a fire at the heating plant. Crews from the Athens Fire Department responded to the scene and contained the fire by 11:30 p.m. During the time crews were working to contain the fire, the Athens Campus experienced intermittent power outages, as well as a reduction in steam heat and hot water production. Facilities Management engaged a generator to bring the heating plant back online.
Within two hours of the fire being extinguished, steam and hot water were restored to campus. As of 6:30 a.m., the generator powering Lausche was turned off and normal electrical operation resumed.
Though crews continue to investigate the origin of the electrical fault and the fire, initial analysis shows a main chilled water valve was closed during work performed to the plant by contractors earlier that day. When the chilled water value failed to reopen, an associated pump overheated and caused the fire.
Crews with Facilities Management are continuing to assess the damage and repairs at the heating plant. Initial estimates place the loss at around $300,000. The incident occurred in the chilled water portion of the plant, which had been seasonally shut down. It cannot be restarted until new equipment is installed, tested and controlled properly.
The University community is thanked for their patience during the Lausche Heating Plant incident. If you experience further issues, please notify the Facilities Work Center at 593-2911.
The Ohio University Alert page is the primary source of updated information during critical incidents, such as the heating plant fire and resulting outages. Information on the Alert page is intended to inform the University community of the situation, advise them of any safety precautions they need to take and provide them with a dynamic page that updates as the information is made available.
In an event in which immediate notification is required, members of the University's Critical Incident Response Team will deploy emergency text and email messages to users registered with the University's emergency notification system. To check if you are registered, visit: http://www.ohio.edu/riskandsafety/emergencyprograms/notification_system/.