Warranty keeps Power Plant fire from costing KSU too much

Sean Joseph

The full extent of damages caused by the fire at the Power Plant on Sunday morning is still unknown, but due to a warranty issue the university will pay a minimal amount to fix it.

Excess heat from a smokestack on top of the building caused rubber and decomposing insulation in the roof to catch fire, said Chief James Williams of the Kent Fire Department.

The university probably will not have to pay much to repair the roof of the Power Plant because the smokestack was not built to specifications, said Michael McDonald, director of Campus Environment and Operations. Contractors and engineers are looking for the problem that caused the smoldering. Damage estimates should be known by Friday.

The fire was most likely caused by either flammable materials being too close to the smokestack or a deficiency in the collar around it, McDonald said.

“We’re going to go back in, tear the insulation out and do it the right way,” McDonald said.

A similar incident occurred April 11 with the same smokestack, but the fire was on a smaller scale, Williams said.

After the first fire, a portion of the roof was cut off because Power Plant employees thought flammable material was too close to the smokestack, McDonald said.

The university Power Plant, located at the corner of Summit Street and Ted Boyd Drive, runs on two gas fire turbines, McDonald said. One has been shut off until it is repaired to ensure the problem does not occur again. The power supply on campus will not be affected because the plant is backed by a power grid.

Two employees were in the Power Plant when the fire occurred, but they were never in any danger, McDonald said.

Contact safety reporter Sean Joseph at [email protected].