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Substation fire sparks dual station response

Fire crews from Greytown and Carterton responded to a fire at a Powerco substation on Bidwells Cutting Rd near Greytown yesterday at about 10.30am.

Greytown station officer Harry Howard said the fire was inside a small cinder block building adjacent to the station’s main infrastructure and was caused by a piece of equipment roughly the size of a car engine block overheating, then catching fire and smouldering.

“While the equipment was understood not to be live, we did wait for Poweco to come and ensure power was completely isolated as it would have been holding about 33,000 volts of electricity if it was live,” he said.

“We had to treat it as live.”

The crews were at the site for about an hour and 45 minutes; the first 20-30 minutes were spent waiting for Powerco’s arrival, and the remainder waiting for confirmation that the power was isolated and then putting out the fire.

A tanker was sent from Carterton station and waited on standby at the scene, while two appliances from Greytown were the primary resources used.

Howard said that, unlike most fires, crews didn’t touch their water supplies and hoses because it was an electrical fire, and they used carbon dioxide [CO2] fire extinguishers instead.

He was also full of praise for the passerby who noticed the smoke coming from the building, stopped to take a second look, and then “quickly” rang 111.

The exact cause of the fire at the Greytown injection plant is currently under investigation, Powerco head of network operations Caz Haydon told the Times-Age.

“No one was hurt in the fire, and there were no power outages,” he said.

“Powerco was first alerted to the fire at 9.54am thanks to an electronic alarm, and a member of the public who called the fire department.”

The injection plant releases a signal along the electricity network that controls hot water, streetlights, and night-rate heaters.

Haydon said that while repairs were made to the plant last night, streetlights in Greytown, Featherston, and Martinborough were turned on manually, and some areas were without street lighting for a period as a result.

Although some hot water supplies remained on, night-rate hot water systems and night store heaters could not be switched on last night, which means people who have chosen this Powerco service won’t have hot water this morning.

Freddie Wilkie
Freddie Wilkie
Freddie Wilkie is a journalist at the Wairarapa Times-Age; originally moving from Christchurch, he is interested in housing stories as well as covering emergencies and crime.

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