Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Great Balls of Fire

Yesterday evening the Xcel Power Substation several doors down from our house exploded in a fireball that shot up 70-100 feet into the stifling Denver sky.

Xcel Power Substation Explosion

I was in my house when I heard the first of two booms, and ran to the window to see what happened as I saw my neighbors (who had been gardening) looking towards the explosion with horrified faces. As I could only see their reactions from my vantage point I had no idea what happened and wondered if a plane had crashed.

My neighbors then screamed and immediately started running down the block in the opposite direction so I ran out to my porch to look in the direction they'd been looking when I heard the second boom and saw a 70-80 foot mushrooming fireball looming over my house. Just moments later I was hit by a wave of heat.

I was frozen, for a moment wondering when the fireball would stop growing, wondering if it was going to consume me.

As the flames burned off the thick, black column of smoke continued to rise I ran back into the house, grabbed my camera and headed towards the burning substation.

Xcel Power Substation Explosion

Despite the raging fire, the growing heat and possibility of further explosions I moved closer to the substation and took photos from across the street until the heat became just too intense.

As I moved back, the smoke and particles triggered a localised rain of wet, black deposits (which I hope were carbon and not PCBs).

I ran back in to my house, washed off what I could and headed back out to continue photographing and to assess what might happen next.

Just then remembered that I had my cellphone and, after what felt like an eternity, forced my shaking hands to activate the video capture and shot this short video:

At first only a few people ventured outside...

Xcel Power Substation Explosion

...but eventually a flood of onlookers, fire trucks, and media filled our street as chaos reassembled into some sense of normalcy.

Xcel Power Substation Explosion

Neighbors were interviewed...

Xcel Power Substation Explosion

Xcel Power Substation Explosion

...and remnants of the substation rained down on lawns...

Xcel Power Substation Explosion

...and on cars.

Xcel Power Substation Explosion

Power was eventually restored by about 1 AM, which I thought was amazingly quick, I assumed we'd be without power for at least a day. My hat is off to those Xcel workers who made that happen. I couldn't fall asleep so I headed back out to take some last photos of the event. Here, the substation continued to smolder into the night...

Xcel Power Substation Explosion

...as workers continued the cleanup process.

Xcel Power Substation Explosion



9NEWS.com | Denver | Colorado's Online News Leader | Power outages possible as crews fix Xcel substation


Michael Roberts said...

These are great, you have captured the action. Good job, felt like I was there.

Sarah..... Mitchell (went to SSA)! said...

Wow Mike! What a rush after just getting home, huh?! Eric and I missed most of this, because we just got in Monday evening, unloaded, crashed, and headed to work Tuesday. Never turned the tv on! :) Great coverage though! Can't imagine being that close! Bet your heart starts punding when you hear a loud noise?!