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Fire Shuts down Colorado Biomass Plant

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According to an article published this week by the Summit Daily News, Frisco, Co., USA, a conveyor carrying wood chips into the biomass power plant sparked a pre-dawn fire this past weekend, rallying firefighter crews from multiple municipalities located miles away.
At about 4:05 a.m. during a routine inspection, a plant employee discovered the fire started at the top of an outdoor conveyor belt system, said Dean Rostrom, chairman of Eagle Valley Clean Energy, the plant’s developer. These conveyors move wood chips into fuel silos. The fire spread along parts of the conveyor system, disabling it, but did not touch the main plant’s buildings, Rostrom said.
Huge piles of wood chips were also undisturbed by the fire, thanks to quick work by firefighters who came from every agency in Eagle County, as well as some from Garfield County, said Justin Kirkland, Gypsum fire chief, whose crews were first on the scene. When firefighters arrived, flames were jumping up to 20 ft. out of the top of the two silos in the front of the plant, Kirkland said. No injuries or major damage were reported. The facility has temporarily ceased power production while the conveyor system is repaired, Rostrom said.
The plant cost $56 million to build. The U.S. Department of Agriculture came up with a $40 million loan guarantee based on the premise it would offer renewable, clean energy. Eagle Valley Clean Energy developed the plant, which started generating electricity last December.
The company claims the plant is a source of completely renewable energy by using beetle-killed trees from forestland within a 75-mile radius of the plant, as well as wood waste from the Eagle County landfill, preserving natural healthy forests and not using any domestic resources that would go towards other industries that use wood such as furniture and pulp production.

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