Fire at Christchurch's Islington Substation started in capacitor video

Stuff.co.nz

Fire at Islington Substation near Pound Rd, Christchurch

A substation fire that billowed thick, black smoke into the air above Christchurch originated from a capacitor problem.

Transpower was yet to determine the root cause of the fire at its Islington Substation in Roberts Rd about 1.30pm Monday, but an investigation had so far discovered the electrical component was responsible.

Residents heard explosions from the plant before emergency services arrived. Passersby snapped dramatic photographs of black smoke filtering into the air as flames grew several metres high.

Flames were seen leaping from the substation.
JOHN FOE

Flames were seen leaping from the substation.

Transpower corporate communications manager Rebecca Wilson said the fire originated in a capacitor. The piece of electrical equipment managed voltage in the network, which powered the upper South Island.

READ MORE: Large fire, explosions at Christchurch power station

"Capacitors, and quite a lot of equipment in substations, operate on oil, so when you have a fault or an issue like that you would probably expect some oil to be burning, and of course we know that because we saw the very black smoke.

Residents reported hearing explosions as a power substation caught fire on Monday.
KEVIN O'KANE/FACEBOOK

Residents reported hearing explosions as a power substation caught fire on Monday.

"It wasn't a substantial fire, it looked very big, but it was contained quite easily even within the isolated area of the substation."

The blaze, which took more than an hour to bring under control, did not affect power supply to Christchurch residents, she said.

Fire Service assistant area commander Stephen Butler said four fire engines, two tankers and a foam tender attended the fire.

Inside the Islington Substation after Monday's fire.
SUPPLIED

Inside the Islington Substation after Monday's fire.

Transpower took about 45 minutes to isolate the power, while the Fire Service gathered its resources. Once the power was turned off, it was safe for firefighters to enter and extinguish the fire within four minutes using foam, he said.

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"It was fully bunded, all the safety system worked perfectly. The fire-rated walls protected neighbouring infrastructure belonging to the power company."

Butler said two nearby capacitors would be checked for radiated heat damage.

Environment Canterbury confirmed it was notified, but took no further action. 

 - Stuff

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