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Two-alarm fire sparks in Biomass One power plant

A two-alarm fire in Biomass One's power plant in White City today forced an evacuation and closed Avenue G, but no injuries were reported after fast action by firefighters and Biomass One staff.

The fire broke out in a concrete room on the second floor of the building at 2350 Avenue G just before 12:30 p.m. Jackson County Fire District 3 crews arrived within minutes because of the station's close proximity to Biomass One, according to Jackson County Fire District 3 spokeswoman Ashley Lara.

The fire closed Avenue G for about an hour while fire crews worked with Pacific Power and Biomass One staff. A gaseous fire-suppression system and the building's concrete construction prevented the fire from spreading beyond a section on the second floor. Employees were safely evacuated, Lara said. 

Six engines from District 3 and Medford Fire-Rescue responded, and flames were visible when crews arrived on scene, according to Lara. The second alarm was called to ensure enough resources could immediately respond to the fire, Lara said.

The business is still operational except for the damaged section of the power plant, Lara said. Calls to Biomass One were not immediately returned this afternoon and the business office was closed.

The fire is believed to have been electrical in nature, but Lara said a fire investigator and Biomass One staff are working together to determine the exact cause and point of ignition.

Biomass One operates a 30-megawatt, wood debris-fired power plant that burns an estimated 335,000 tons of wood and landscape debris annually, according to its website. Two boilers produce high-pressure steam that is delivered to three turbines that generate the electricity, according to its permit with the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality.

— Reach reporter Nick Morgan at 541-776-4471 or nmorgan@mailtribune.com. Follow him on Twitter at @MTCrimeBeat.

An electrical fire damaged a turbine building at Biomass One in White City Wednesday. Photo courtesy Jackson County Fire District 3