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At 12:15 a.m. on Sunday, May 15, 2011, an explosion and fire occurred at the Sinatra substation. As a result of the fire, numerous pieces of the bushings flew off the large 230/138-kV autotransformer and became embedded in the firewalls. Fueled by the transformer’s mineral oil, the fire quickly engulfed the entire transformer. Observers from nearby hotels and the interstate saw flames shoot into the dark sky, which some estimated to be as high as 80 ft (24 m). The incident made national news.

The Las Vegas fire department and NV Energy crews responded quickly, but it took approximately 90 minutes for the fire to burn itself out. Fortunately, no one was injured. Thanks to a carefully coordinated effort between NV Energy’s transmission and distribution operations, as well as crews on site, the major distribution feeders were reenergized within a few hours. Later that Sunday morning, all customers were back in service.

In spite of the initial explosion and sustained oil-fed fire, both firewalls that bookended the autotransformer were remarkably intact. More importantly, the GIS equipment located behind the firewalls was protected from the heat and explosion. It was not damaged and remained available for service. The autotransformer was a total loss, naturally.

This event illustrates the modular firewall system worked well and literally acted as the last line of defense. It prevented a very expensive and lengthy substation rebuilding effort.

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1,399 views | Added Jan 20, 2012 | Rate View top rated
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