|Hoover Dam – A transformer fire at Hoover Dam was quickly extinguished|
No one was injured in the explosion near the base of the dam, an engineering marvel on the Colorado River that straddles the border between Arizona and Nevada. The Western Area Power Administration said electricity generated by Hoover Dam continued to reach the 8 million people who depend on it in Arizona, Nevada and Southern California.
The cause of the fire is under investigation and officials are working to determine the extent of the damage to a transformer, one of 15 in the complex that controls the voltage of electricity sent to customers. .
Jacqueline Gold, regional director of the US Bureau of Reclamation, said there is no threat to the power grid.
The fire broke out around 10 a.m. and was out within half an hour, Gould said in a statement. It attracted the attention of tourists who said they heard an alarm and felt the ground rumble beneath them.
William Hero, 13, of San Francisco, was on a weaving bridge with his parents when he saw the explosion and then heard a “loud boom.”
“A ton of black smoke just blew up in the air. It almost looked like a mushroom and then it caught fire,” Harrow said. “I was really surprised and I started filming.”
The explosion occurred about 25 miles (40 km) southeast of Las Vegas on the apron of a building housing turbines downstream from the dam’s base. Hoover Dam is one of the tallest concrete dams in the United States at 726 feet (221 m). Each of its 17 generators can power 100,000 households.
20,000 vehicles a day pass the broad crest of the dam, which is a National Historic Landmark and has been featured in films including Transformers and Fool’s Rush In.
The Hoover Dam is considered a base-load source of electricity, meaning it can quickly respond to additional electricity needs on the grid or dial-back supply.
While the loss of transformers or other equipment at hydropower facilities can stress the grid, “no single source is integral to the health of the power grid,” said spokeswoman Lisa Maymon.
Hoover Dam and Glen Canyon Dam on the Arizona-Utah border are the largest upstream, Memon said.
Hydropower from these dams has recently been threatened by the falling levels of Lake Mead and Lake Powell, the two largest man-made reservoirs in the United States that hold water from the Colorado River.
Federal officials have taken action in recent years to maintain the dams’ power-generating capacity and to maintain the flow of water to the western states and Mexico that depend on it. Drought and climate change have reduced the lakes to their lowest levels in decades.
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