Massive Fire Forces DTE Energy’s St. Clair Power Plant Offline

A massive fire broke out at DTE Energy’s St. Clair Power Plant in the early evening on August 11.

Firefighters reportedly received the call for assistance at around 6:30 p.m. and fought the blaze well into the following morning.

Video taken during the incident shows flames in several spots on the north end of the plant’s roof, extending well to the south. There is smoke coming out of vents throughout the entire length of the facility, which has six operational units with a total capacity of 1,547 MW.

The plant invoked emergency procedures and shut down all units onsite by 7:01 p.m. DTE Energy said employees were evacuated safely and that there were no known injuries at the plant.

Firefighters from St. Clair and Marine City were first on the scene, but as many as 30 departments, including Port Huron, which is nearly 20 miles to the north, were said to have been involved in extinguishing the fire.

In a statement released at 8:26 a.m. on August 12, DTE Energy reported that the fire was out. However, it said first responders remained onsite to monitor the situation.

“We want to thank the various fire departments in the area for their quick response and action, and the community for its support,” said DTE Energy.

The company noted that air-monitoring systems remained in place with readings continuing to be well within normal limits outside of the facility’s perimeter. There was “no threat to the community,” it said.

The plant is expected to remain closed for the foreseeable future, while the situation is being assessed. DTE Energy said the station’s 294 employees would be reassigned to other DTE facilities.

On June 8, DTE Energy announced that it would retire the St. Clair plant and two smaller coal-fired stations between 2020 and 2023. Whether or not the fire will alter those plans is still unclear.

Aaron Larson, associate editor (@AaronL_Power, @POWERmagazine)