15 teams of firefighters battle blaze in Buckland hydroelectric plant

  • A fire at the hydro electric plant at the end of Gardner Falls Road in Buckland kept local fire crews busy Sunday night. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz

  • A fire at the hydro electric plant at the end of Gardner Falls Road in Buckland kept local fire crews busy Sunday night. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz

  • A fire at the hydro electric plant at the end of Gardner Falls Road in Buckland kept local fire crews busy Sunday night. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz

  • Firefighters work the scene of a fire at the Gardner Falls hydroelectric plant in Buckland late Sunday night. A call came in around 9:45 reporting heavy smoke coming from the building where one of the turbines had caught fire. Buckland, Shelburne Falls, Shelburne, Greenfield, Colrain and Charlemont responded with Conway providing cover. Recorder Staff/Matt Burkhartt

  • Firefighters work the scene of a fire at the Gardner Falls hydroelectric plant in Buckland late Sunday night. A call came in around 9:45 reporting heavy smoke coming from the building where one of the turbines had caught fire. Buckland, Shelburne Falls, Shelburne, Greenfield, Colrain and Charlemont responded with Conway providing cover. Recorder Staff/Matt Burkhartt

  • Firefighters suit up at the scene of a fire at the Gardner Falls hydroelectric plant in Buckland late Sunday night. A call came in around 9:45 reporting heavy smoke coming from the building where one of the turbines had caught fire. Buckland, Shelburne Falls, Shelburne, Greenfield, Colrain and Charlemont responded with Conway providing cover. Recorder Staff/Matt Burkhartt

  • Fire trucks at the scene of a fire at the Gardner Falls hydroelectric plant in Buckland late Sunday night. A call came in around 9:45 reporting heavy smoke coming from the building where one of the turbines had caught fire. Buckland, Shelburne Falls, Shelburne, Greenfield, Colrain and Charlemont responded with Conway providing cover. Recorder Staff/Matt Burkhartt

  • Firefighters work the scene of a fire at the Gardner Falls hydroelectric plant in Buckland late Sunday night. A call came in around 9:45 reporting heavy smoke coming from the building where one of the turbines had caught fire. Buckland, Shelburne Falls, Shelburne, Greenfield, Colrain and Charlemont responded with Conway providing cover. Recorder Staff/Matt Burkhartt

Published: 4/17/2017 8:27:26 AM

BUCKLAND — Firefighters from all over the county battled a fire inside the Buckland hydroelectric plant.

Buckland fire received the call at about 10 p.m. Sunday that there was smoke coming from the building at 25 Gardner Falls Road. Upon arrival, the departments started sending in teams of firefighters and determined the smoke was coming from a malfunctioning turbine that caught fire, according to Buckland Fire Chief Herb Guyette.

There were no injuries and no one was inside the building. Buckland, Shelburne Falls, Shelburne, Greenfield, Colrain and Charlemont fire departments all responded to the call.

During the day the plant’s power went out, Guyette said. In the evening, a smoke alarm went off. The current belief, he said, is that because the power was off, one of the valves opened up, allowing water to push through the turbine without it running. This led to the turbine overheating. Then oil on top of the turbine, for lubrication purposes, likely caused the fire. 

Damage costs are still being calculated, Guyette said, and hopefully will be known by today.

Guyette said about 15 teams of firefighters went into the building to extinguish the turbine. The fire was extinguished in about an hour, but firefighters stayed on scene until around 2 a.m. to clear smoke and help the building’s operators safely inspect the facility, the chief said. 

A lot of support was needed not because of the size of the fire, which stayed contained, but because of the unknown, Guyette said, since he and his crew could not tell the magnitude of the fire inside the building due to the level of smoke. The firefighters did not know what was on fire until they entered the building, he said.

“It’s not common. It’s not something that you deal with once or twice a year,” Guyette said. “Most people who were there said it was new to them.”

The facility is run by Essential Power Massachusetts, Guyette said, citing recent town documents. He said he cannot confirm that the company is the owner. 

The hydroelectric plant was offline this weekend, Guyette said. It is unknown if the plant was running during the week or has been offline for longer than the weekend.

Workers from the plant responded to the scene as well. Typically a dam like this is run remotely, Guyette said. Even if workers were present at the plant, Guyette does not think things would have gone any differently. 




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