SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- City Utilities of Springfield said Tuesday that it hadn't finished its investigation of a fire in two steel coal bunkers at the John Twitty Energy Center. Utility managers said, however, that coal from the Powder River region of Wyoming has characteristics that allow it to spontaneously combust if it's exposed to hot air for too long.
The coal was waiting to be burned on Monday evening after a planned four-week outage for plant maintenance. As unit 2 at the JTEC, formerly known as the Southwest Power Plant, was being restarted, the coal in two bunkers ignited. CU officials said Tuesday that the bunkers had been emptied of coal during the maintenance outage but it's possible some hidden coal was accidentally left behind.
Two CU workers put out the fire on the 10th floor bunker by dousing it with water, but they started to feel the effects of carbon monoxide poisoning. A third worker found those two and helped them walk to safety.