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Q&A: What you should know about the transformer fire at Hoover Dam

Hoover Dam transformer fire has been extinguished
Explosion at Hoover Dam
Posted at 1:13 PM, Jul 19, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-19 23:08:28-04

BOULDER CITY, Nev. (KTNV) — On Tuesday morning, a bushing failure led to an isolated fire at the Hoover Dam. No injuries have been reported and the Bureau of Reclamation says there is no threat to the power grid. However, many questions are still unanswered about the fire and its impact on Hoover Dam.

Check back for updates as more questions get answered.

Hoover Dam Explosion has been extinguished

Q: Have tours been halted?

Hoover Dam officials have confirmed that tours are still ongoing.

Q: I heard there was a power outage in Bullhead City? 

According to the Mohave Electric Power Collective Inc., power was not affected in the Mohave County or Bullhead City area by the explosion at Hoover Dam.

Q: Have any similar fire broken out at the dam? 

Local historian Mark Hall-Patton clarified that the fire did not happen at the dam, it happened near the transformers. While it’s not necessarily common for transformers to explode, it’s not something that is unexpected.

Local Historian Mark Hall-Patton talks about transformers at Hoover Dam

Q: How does this impact the structural integrity of the dam?

Local Historian Mark Hall-Patton says since the fire caused by the transformer did not burn for long, the damage could not be significant enough to impact the dam itself.

“Cement has this strange thing about it that, if it’s made right, it will continue to get harder and harder for 2000 years, before it begins to reverse on itself,” said Hall-Patton.

Since the dam’s construction was completed in 1935, the dam’s composition should be intact for many years.

Local Historian Mark Hall-Patton talks about the stability of the Hoover Dam

Q: How does this impact the flow of energy from the dam?

The Bureau of Reclamation has said there is no impact to the flow of energy from the dam. The transformer that caught on fire – unit A5 – was on the Arizona side. However, the dam is also operating 17 transformers, 9 on the Nevada side and 8 on the Arizona side.

Douglas Hendrix, the Deputy Public Affairs Specialist for Reclamation, explained that the Hoover Dam generates energy when water comes through the dam and spins the turbines, which generate energy that is sent to power lines by the transformers. If one transformer is down, there are several others available to accommodate the energy transfer.

Q&A: What you should know about the transformer fire at Hoover Dam