Fire crews survey damage at Oroville power plant |

Fire crews survey damage at Oroville power plant

OROVILLE — Fire crews mopped up and surveyed damage on Friday from a fire at a Northern California plant that supplies electricity to pumps used by a major water delivery system, authorities said.

Crews were able to get into the Ronald B. Robie Thermalito Pumping-Generating plant near Oroville after the fire died down overnight, state fire Capt. Scott McLean said.

The fire will not affect water deliveries since supplies from nearby Lake Oroville — a major state reservoir — can be diverted around the damaged plant, according to Ted Thomas, a spokesman with the state Department of Water Resources.

The state, however, will have to purchase additional power to pump water. Thomas said the exact amount of additional electricity will be determined by how much water cities and farmers demand, and by environmental conditions.

The five-story plant about 70 miles north of Sacramento is part of the State Water Project, which supplies water to nearly a million acres of irrigated farmland and more than 25 million residents.

The blaze began Thursday on the second floor before spreading. The cause was under investigation.

Firefighters were driven out of the structure when visibility became poor and something fell inside, causing the ground to shudder.

“It was so intense, so smoky and we were getting involved in a lot of life hazards,” McLean said.

No one was injured.

— Associated Press

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