Transformer fire sparked blast at Hoover Dam hydropower plant – live


Hoover Dam explosion, fire caught on video

A fire and explosion rocked Nevada’s iconic Hoover Dam on Tuesday morning.

Bystander Kristy Hairston tweeted a video at 1.11pm, saying that she was “touring the Hoover Dam” when she “heard an explosion”.

“My goodness, something has just blown up,” a witness can be heard saying in the video.

Boulder City, Nevada, officials said the fire at the dam has been extinguished.

The US Bureau of Reclamation, which oversees the dam, said on Tuesday a transformer caught on fire, but that fire crews were able to put out the blaze without incident.

No one was injured in the blast, according to the agency, and the power grid is still functioning.

The iconic dam, completed in 1935, provides hydropower serving millions of people across Nevada, Arizona, and California.

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Bystanders describe Hoover dam fire: ‘A tonne of black smoke just exploded in air’

The Hoover Dam is one of the most popular tourist landmarks in the US, so it’s no surprise plenty of witnesses were on hand Tuesday morning when a broken transformer caused a fire and explosion at the massive hydropower facility.

“A ton of black smoke just exploded in the air. It looked almost like a mushroom and then a fire followed,” said William Herro, 13, of San Francisco, in an interview with The Washington Post. “I was really surprised and I started filming.”

The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

Here’s our report on what happened.

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Lake Mead’s water levels at record low

The Hoover Dam was built to enclose Lake Mead, the largest reservoir in the US. But that vast reservoir has now shrunk to record lows amid a historic mega-drought in the US West being driven by the climate crisis.

Lake Mead was 1,041ft above sea level on Tuesday, having dropped around 25 feet since the start of 2021, according to the Bureau of Reclamation, which manages operations. At just 27 per cent of its capacity, that low water level has left a distinctive “bathtub ring” of white mineral around the shoreline.

Early Tuesday afternoon, the temperature at Hoover Dam was 106F.

Recent images have shown just how severe the drought impacts have been on Lake Mead. The low water levels have revealed the original intake valves for the city of Las Vegas’s water supply for the first time. A plane from the Second World War has also emerged from the rapidly-shrinking depths, a speedboat stuck vertically in the lakebed – and the decaying corpse of a 1980s murder victim in an oil barrel.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation by The Bureau of Reclamation.

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Hoover Dam fires hit an already fragile power operation

The Hoover Dam fire couldn’t have come at a worse time.

As reporter Alexander Kaufman notes, the hydro plant attached to the dam has already been struggling to produce power as the water levels in Lake Mead reach record lows.

As Louise Boyle has reported, experts think the dam could stop producing power altogether because of the Western megadrought in the coming years.

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Terrifying Lake Mead photos show how bad the drought has gotten

The fire at the Hoover Dam is just the latest shocking news story bringing attention to the region’s massive waterworks.

The climate crisis-inflected drought pummeling much of the American West has caused water lines to drop at Lake Mead, the country’s largest reservoir, which was created when the Hoover Dam was built on the Colorado River.

Ethan Freedman has this look at what’s going on at Lake Mead.

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PHOTOS: Fire crews battle blaze at Hoover Dam

Officials have released photos of fire crews battling a blaze at the Hoover Dam.

According to the US Bureau of Reclamation, a transformer caught fire on Tuesday morning.

The photos show firefighters, as well as an automated sprinkler system, working to stop the fire, which was put out shortly after it began.

Firefighters spray water on a flaming transformer at the Hoover Dam on 19 July, 2022.

(Bureau of Reclamation)

(Bureau of Reclamation)

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Not that kind of Transformer fire…

Officials have said a transformer caught fire at the Hoover Dam on Tuesday morning.

That has some online joking about scenes from the Transformers movie franchise, where the iconic dam hides a research racility for giant fighting robots.

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Bid mulling ‘climate emergency declaration’

Though it’s unclear so far what caused the fire at the Hoover Dam on Tuesday morning, many parts of the Western US and beyond are suffering wildfires because of the climate crisis.

That reportedly has Joe Biden mulling whether to declare a national climate emergency and tap into federal resources to tackle the crisis.

Gustaf Kilander, Ethan Freedman, and Louise Boyle look into what such a declaration could mean for the planet.

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Texas congressional candidate calls Hoover Dam sign of ‘climate emergency’

Russell Foster, a Texan who is running as a Democrat for a seat in the US Congress, says today’s Hoover Dam fire is the latest sign of the climate crisis.

Authorities are still investigating what caused a transformer to catch fire at the dam, but the incident came as many parts of the world struggled with climate-drive heat waves.

“Texas & the American West is on fire. The Hoover Dam just had an explosion,” Mr Russell wrote on social media on Tuesday. “Heatwaves all across the northern hemisphere this week. London is burning. It’s not going to get any better around the world until we address our climate emergency. We can’t cope, we must fix this problem.”

Here’s some of our reporting on the recent heat.

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What is the role of the Hoover Dam?

The Hoover Dam is one of the most famous pieces of civil engineering in the United States, and is a major tourist attraction as well as an essential power source for much of the West.

The dam created and impounds Lake Mead, which when full in non-drought years is the largest reservoir in the US, and its generators provide power for public and private utilities in Nevada, Arizona, and California.

Each year the dam generates 4.5bn kilowatt-hours of hydroelectric power for use in the three states, enough to serve around 8m people in the region.

The Bureau of Reclamation says that during peak electricity periods, enough water runs through the generators to fill 15 average-sized swimming pools – 20,000 gallons each – in one second.

Graeme Massie has the details.

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Bystander says bridge above Hoover Dam was ‘shaking’ after explosion

TikTok user @iris_jaded says she captured another angle on this morning’s fire and explosion at the Hoover Dam.

“We saw it explode. It was very big,” she says in the clip. “The bridge we’re standing now is shaking.”

In the video, an alarm can be heard droning in the background.





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