Natural gas plant fire destroys building

Posted: Friday, December 18, 2009

ANCHORAGE - Two large explosions and a fire leveled a maintenance building Thursday morning adjacent to a natural gas plant north of Anchorage.

Robert Deberry / The Associated Press
Robert Deberry / The Associated Press

Matanuska-Susitna Borough officials said no one was injured in the Fairbanks Natural Gas-operated facility at Point MacKenzie. The cause of the explosions was not immediately known.

Only one person was at the plant when the explosions occurred, said Dennis Brodigan, the borough's emergency services director. The worker was in another plant building and called 911, he said.

When emergency personnel arrived, they found a 60- by 30-foot building "on fire and totally down on the ground," Brodigan said.

More than 20 emergency responders and two fire engines, three water tankers, a rescue truck and a hazardous materials team responded.

Fairbanks Natural Gas employees shut off the gas to the plant.

Officials decided to let the fire burn itself out.

When crews arrived, they doused nearby tanker cars with water to cool them and kept close watch on several nearby buildings. Firefighters sprayed water on a production building.

Initially it was believed there was only one explosion. However, borough officials later said there were three, the first at 7:16 a.m. and the second shortly before 8 a.m. The third, described as small, occurred after 9 a.m. when a tanker truck inside the burning building exploded, Brodigan said.

By 10 a.m., most of the firefighters were returning to their stations to prevent their fire trucks from freezing up in the 7-degree cold, said borough spokeswoman Patty Sullivan.

A crew remained Thursday morning about a quarter-mile away to monitor the fire.

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