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WA: Firefighters save home from Electrical Fire

March 21, 2013 Leave a comment

Snoqualmie, WA:  A quick response by the Carnation Fire Department Thursday, March 14, saved a home in the 5900 block of 322nd Avenue Northeast.

The electrical fire, reported at 8:38 a.m., appeared to start in the fuse box on the dryer, when a resident of the home was doing laundry, said King County Fire Investigator Todd Legg.

Reportedly, the resident had just started the dryer when she heard sparking, Legg said, and she found flames coming from the electrical panel. From the dryer, the fire spread to the home’s meter box, but the damage was quickly contained.

“The response from the fire department was two minutes,” Legg said.

Eastside Fire and Rescue reported that all occupants of the home were safely evacuated and no injuries were reported. There was some smoke in the home.

Firefighters left the scene around 10 a.m., and the fire investigation has been concluded.

Story via valleyrecord.com

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WA: Electrical Fire Shuts Down Power Production at Ice Harbor Dam

January 23, 2013 Leave a comment

Walla Walla District, WA: Power production stopped at Ice Harbor Dam near Burbank after two small electrical fires were discovered at 9 a.m. Thursday.

The fires were inside two cabinets holding electrical components for two of the dam’s six generators, according to the Army Corps of Engineers. Three generators were operating at the time.

Power for dam facilities stopped, but power was being pulled off the electrical grid within 30 minutes for basic facility operations. The navigation lock returned to service at 12:40 p.m.

Snake River flows previously passing the dam via power generation are being passed through the spillway.

The fires did not last long because of the design and content of the electrical cabinets, Army Corps officials said. The fire produced some smoke, but it quickly cleared, they said.

Operations staff at the dam are evaluating the generators and their electrical and mechanical components to determine the extent of any damage and are working to restore power generation capability.

An investigation into the cause of the fires is planned.

 

WA: Electrical Surge on Docked Boat Motor, Lockout Tagout Procedures in Question

November 13, 2012 Leave a comment

Bainbridge Island, WA:  A massive charge of electricity accidentally entered a motor under maintenance on board the M/V Walla Walla on Sunday while the vessel was docked at the Washington State Ferries (WSF) maintenance facility on Bainbridge Island, known as Eagle Harbor.

No one was injured in the electrical accident, yet a source with detailed knowledge of the event told the KING 5 Investigators that people could have easily died.

“In all my years in the maritime industry I’ve never seen anything like this. It sent chills up my spine because of the potential to kill somebody. I can’t put enough emphasis on how close they came to killing someone,” said the source who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

On Friday the WA State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) announced four separate entities are investigating to get to the bottom of what happened.

“Due to the severity of the damage, the investigation has been elevated to a third party contractor, Cadick Corporation. They will be assisted by WSDOT ferries division’s senior port engineers, safety systems managers, and electrical engineers. WSDOT has also reached out to the Department of Labor and Industries and the U.S. Coast Guard for assistance to ensure that all employee safety requirements were met. Detailed results of the investigation are expected within two to three weeks,” said Marta Coursey, Washington State Ferries Director of Communications.

The accident caused huge chunks of steel and copper to melt, as well as holes to be blasted through what is known as the commutator portion of the motor. A commutator provides the power to turn the shaft and propellers that ultimately move the ferry.

“It looks like it exploded,” said the source. “It has chunks blown out that look like someone took an ice cream scoop and scooped it out.”

Ferries officials issued a press release on Friday saying initial findings show no actual explosion occured.

“Immediately following the incident, the Washington State Department of Transportation Ferries Division started an internal investigation per standard protocol. Preliminary findings indicate that there was no explosion,” said Coursey.

“This is a serious incident and we’re going to do a very thorough and detailed investigation into what happened,” said David Moseley, WSDOT assistant secretary, ferries division. “We hope to return the vessel to service as soon as possible.”

WSF is working with General Electric to ascertain if a spare drive motor owned by the ferry system which is currently stored in a warehouse. If testing shows that part can be used, sources tell KING the Walla Walla would most likely be out of service for four to six additional months. If a new commutator has to be built by General Electric, the Walla Walla could be out of service for up to two years.

The vessel is part of the Jumbo Class of boats and is one of the largest in the fleet. It has been out of service for several months while undergoing maintenance, including a new paint job, at Vigor Industrial Shipyard in Everett. After the stint at Todd, the boat was towed to Eagle Harbor for additional procedures before going back into service. One of the jobs was to clean out the commutators due to excess paint, or “overspray,” which accidentally entered into the machinery.

That’s when things went dangerously wrong. According to two sources most likely human error is to blame. KING 5 has learned this type of unexpected release of hazardous electricity would not happen if employees performing the maintenance would have employed the legally mandated safety procedures to prevent an electrical explosion or electrocution.

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has termed the procedure “Lockout/Tagout.” When work is being performed in an electrical environment such as that, Lockout/Tagout procedures ensure the machinery is turned off and disconnected from its energy source. A padlock is used to make sure the power cannot be turned back on. Experts say the process takes about five minutes.

Ferry managers would not confirm nor deny that proper safety protocols were not in place prior to the event.

“On Sunday, November 4, the propulsion drive motor on the Walla Walla failed.  This failure left the vessel inoperable until the propulsion drive motor or its components can either be repaired or replaced.  We are conducting a full investigation into the incident and probable causes per standard WSF protocol.  We are also working with the manufacturer to trouble-shoot the problem,” said Coursey.

The motor that was left in an unsecured state is located in what is called Motor Room #1 of the Walla Walla. Sources told us that on Sunday an employee on the other end of the boat turned the power on inside Motor Room #2. That would be okay if proper safety steps had been taken. Instead, massive amounts of electricity traveled across the boat from Motor Room #2 to Motor Room #1. That caused the commutator to overheat, portions of it to melt, and pieces of it to pop out. Fortunately no one was working inside the unsecured Motor Room #1 drive motor.

According to OSHA the event could have had catastrophic results.  “Employees can be seriously or fatally injured if machinery they service or maintain unexpectedly energizes, starts up, or releases stored energy. OSHA’s standard on the Control of Hazardous Energy (Lockout/Tagout)…spells out the steps employers must take to prevent accidents associated with hazardous energy,” wrote OSHA Assistant Secretary John Henshaw, in a memo outlining the Lockout/Tagout requirements.

The Walla Walla is a relief boat in the system. It can carry 2,000 passengers and 188 vehicles. It typically sails on the Seattle/Bremerton run or the Edmonds/Kingston run.

Ferry managers said they are working to get the boat back to work and that service will hopefully not be interrupted..

“Our current estimates are that the vessel will be out of service for the next few months while crews work to repair the issue.  There will be vessel moves throughout the system as we work to keep service levels maintained and we are working to return the Walla Walla to service as soon as possible,” said Coursey.

Story via nwcn.com

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Contract Worker Injured at Boeing in WA – Probable Arc Flash

December 13, 2011 Leave a comment
EVERETT, WA — A Boeing contract worker was hospitalized Monday after being burned in an industrial accident at the Everett plant, officials said.

The worker was taken to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle. Boeing officials declined to provide details about the worker or the severity of the injuries.

The incident was reported to 911 just after 11 a.m., Everett city spokeswoman Kate Reardon said. A caller told dispatchers there was what sounded like an explosion and possible fire.

The injured person was a Sequoyah Electric employee, Boeing officials said. The incident remains under investigation.

No further details were released.

 
Note from blogger – Being that there was a loud noise and the worker was burned, it is very likely the accident was from an electrical arc flash.
 
Story via HeraldNet.com

Electrical Arc Flash Burns Worker in WA

January 15, 2011 Leave a comment

WENATCHEE, WA — An worker suffered minor burns to his face at about 7:50 a.m. today when electricity arced inside an electrical panel he was working on at 521 S. Columbia Street.  [bloggers note – this is most likely due to an arc flash accident ]

The worker was treated at Central Washington Hospital, said Mitch Barnes, a batallion chief for the Wenatchee Fire Department. Barnes did not know the name of the injured worker this morning, so his condition was not available from officials at Central Washington Hospital.

The building is being remodeled, Barnes said. It is owned by Hamilton Investment Group, LLC.

Story via WenatcheeWorld.com

45 Faulty Light Poles Found in Seattle

January 12, 2011 Leave a comment

SEATTLE, WA — Seattle City Light has uncovered more shock hazards from faulty light poles.

Crews inspecting metal light posts for shock hazards in Seattle found 45 problems, some with street light poles and others involving traffic signs.

Inspectors registered 100 volts coming off a faulty pole at one intersection in the International District. Another pole at Boren and Marion had voltage in the 105-volt range.

It was 90 volts that electrocuted a dog in Queen Anne. Sammy died Thanksgiving Day when he stepped on an energized sidewalk plate. Crews blame a lack of grounding and a pinched wire.

After several other complaints, the city hired two contractors to inspect all of the utility’s 30,000 metal poles and ground plates.

“We wanted to get it completed as quickly as we could, and we felt if we divided up the city between two different contractors, we probably could accomplish that in a quicker period of time,” said Suzanne Hartman.

The quick inspection process has cost the utility $300,000 so far.

“It’s not expensive when you consider the long term benefit for the customers and the city,” Hartman said.

But the city hasn’t yet added up the cost of overtime for city light crews making rounds with the inspectors and making repairs.

The inspectors, who look for anything above 30 volts, have found 45 shock hazards, more than half of which were emitting more than 50 volts.

“About half of the ones that we’ve discovered with the elevated voltage — we’ve been able to repair right on the spot. And the other half — we’ll have to come back and do something more extensive,” Hartman said.

Hartman says anything not yet repaired has been de-energized or turned off until it is fixed.

Story via KomoNews.com

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More Dangerous Power Poles Found on Seattle Streets

December 16, 2010 Leave a comment

Seattle, WA – Three more potentially dangerous power poles have been found in Seattle, three weeks after a dog was electrocuted when it stepped on a metal plate by a lamp post on Queen Anne.

The three poles are on Capitol Hill, First Hill and the Central District; one at 13th Avenue and East Aloha Street that carried 60 to 80 volts; one on Boren Avenue and Madison Street with 90 to 105 volts; and the third at 23rd Avenue and East Union Street that emitted 60 to 80 volts.

Anything above 50 volts is considered dangerous, according to Seattle City Light spokeswoman Suzanne Hartman. The metal plate on Queen Anne carried 90 volts.

Power to all three poles has been turned off while City Light crews try to find out why poles were emitting what City Light calls contact voltage, contact with energized metal like a light pole.

Hartman said the Capitol Hill area is one of City Light’s oldest service areas, and the poles where the problems were found were 30 to 40 years old.

The newest cases were discovered after the city said it was hiring contractors to help examine the light poles. One of the potential contractors went up to Capitol Hill and the surrounding area and found 10 poles with potential problems. City Light crews examined the poles and found three emitting contact voltage.

Hartman said no residents reported problems, and no one was injured.

After a second incident in which frayed wires were found in a High Point light pole last week, City Light said it would inspect all 20,000 metal streetlights and 10,000 metal street covers.

City Light went out and inspected all 170 streetlights in the High Point area to make sure there weren’t other problems, and found none.

Linesman Jim Ketelsen, a 30-year City Light veteran, was at High Point to test the faulty pole there. His voltage detector immediately went off. A volt meter told him that the pole was giving off 50 volts, a potentially dangerous level.

Work crews found frayed, exposed wires in the lamppost and made repairs.

On Wednesday, crews checked streetlight poles in the Holly Park neighborhood and found no problems. The lines crews came equipped with voltage detectors, fat green pens with yellow tips that beep if they come in contact with any voltage. 

Hartman said City Light asked utilities around the country about their experiences with contact voltage issues and was told that typically one in 337 streetlights could have problems. Based on that average, City Light could have as many as 60 poles with similar problems.

On Tuesday, crews checked all the poles in the Greenbridge neighborhood, which has lights similar to those at High Point, and found no problems. City Light hopes to have all the inspections completed by May, if not sooner, Hartman said. “We don’t want people to think the situation is unsafe,” said Hartman. “If people notice a streetlight is on during the day or flickering at night or if they walk by a metal pole and feel a tingling, report this immediately.

Story via SeattleTimesNWSource.com