Fire extinguished at shuttered power plant in Somerset

Staff Reports Posted 7 January 2022 at 3:49 pm

SOMERSET – Multiple fire departments, including four from Orleans County, responded this morning to a fire at the AES Somerset power plant site.

That 676-megawatt plant has been closed since 2020. It is being eyed for a 1,000-acre solar power project or as a cryptocurrency data mining plant.

The Niagara County Sheriff’s Office issued the following press release:

This morning at 9:22, the Niagara County Sheriff’s Office received a 911 call reporting a structure fire the former power plant at 7725 Lake Rd.

Niagara County Sheriff’s deputies responded with members of Barker Volunteer Fire Company. Responding personnel observed large amounts of black smoke and visible flames coming from the top of one of the power plant modules in the flue gas desulfurization (FGD) building.

The operations manager on scene, John Mason, stated that his employees were cutting a hole into a flange of the building in order to place an anchor and tear down the module. While cutting the hole, the rubber liner on the interior of the building started on fire.

The fire spread to the wood platform and plastic chevrons inside the building, creating a large amount of black smoke. Mr. Mason confirmed that all employees were evacuated and accounted for.

Several other volunteer fire companies from Niagara and Orleans counties, as well as the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station, responded to assist in extinguishing the fire.

One firefighter is reported to have suffered an injury during the incident and was transported to a nearby hospital for treatment. The fire is currently extinguished; however, fire companies are remaining on scene during demolition as a precautionary measure.

The cause of the fire is currently being investigated by Niagara County Origin and Cause.

Editor’s Note: The responding fire companies include Carlton, Lyndonville, Ridgeway and Shelby from Orleans and Barker, Olcott, Wilson, Gasport, Hartland, Wolcottsville and Wrights Corners as well as the Niagara falls Air Reserve Station and Niagara County Origin and Cause.