Smoking Coal Bin Extinguished at University Power Plant



July 19, 2004 – A smoking coal bin was extinguished, no one was injured and no damage was incurred when coal in a bin began to smolder this afternoon in the Power Plant at Southeast Missouri State University.

Jim Daume, associate director of facilities, said the incident was believed to have been caused by spontaneous combustion in an interior dry storage bin on the third floor of the plant.

About four tons of coal were in the bin at the time.

Butch Stidham, co-generation plant manager, said 12 University employees were in the plant when one of them noticed smoke coming from an open window on the west side on the third floor of the plant at 3:40 p.m.

The Cape Girardeau Fire Department responded with four engine trucks, a ladder truck and two staff vehicles. Cape County Private Ambulance also responded to the call.

The smoldering coal was quickly extinguished, and the coal from the bin, along with the coal in the bins on either side, were emptied into a dump truck. The truck then dumped the coal to cool on the concrete on the west side of the power plant. Firemen used hoses to cool down the coal. Throughout the event, the University’s Power Plant maintained consistent operation, and the turbines in the plant continued to function, Daume said. The fire did not disrupt steam or electric production, he said.

Daume said the smoldering coal in the bin was used to operate Boiler 3 at the Power Plant. Boiler 4 was being used at the time of the incident.

In the future, Daume said, Power Plant employees will empty the interior coal bins when they are not being used, and they will be filled only when needed.