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Pawnee Power Plant prepares to restart after fire forced shutdown

Xcel Energy said its employees were returning after an evacuation Friday when the fire started at the plant in Brush, according to authorities.
Credit: KUSA

MORGAN COUNTY, Colorado — Xcel Energy said on Monday that they planned to restart the Pawnee Power Plant, four days after an uncontrolled fire forced its evacuation and shutdown.

The fire, which started Friday, was contained to the plant's coal storage facility but was not controlled, the Morgan County Sheriff's Office said in a news release on Saturday. Emergency workers couldn't extinguish the fire and so were monitoring it, along with Xcel Energy personnel.

All non-essential personnel evacuated the station, and the station went off-line and was no longer producing energy. The Pawnee Power Plant does not power the immediate area, according to the Sheriff's Office.

Xcel Energy said there was no immediate risk to the public. Air-monitoring stations were set up Saturday in Brush and Fort Morgan, according to the release.

On Sunday morning, operations related to the fire were turned over to Xcel Energy and Savage Industries, and all road closures were lifted, according to the Sheriff's Office.

In a statement on Monday, Xcel said the Pawnee plant was expected to resume generating power over the next day and that employees were returning.

"Xcel Energy customers have not experienced any interruptions of electric service due to the fire," the statement says. "We are grateful to the community partners and responders who have assisted with this fire and will continue to work closely with them moving forward. Efforts to extinguish the fire will continue, and the plant can be safety reopened while that work continues."

The agencies that initially responded to the fire were Morgan County Emergency Management, the Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control, Brush Volunteer Fire Department, Morgan County Sheriff's Office, the Colorado Department of Public Safety, and the Northeast Colorado Health Department.

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