7 Aug 2006

Generator fire causes power cuts in the Marshall Islands

6:05 am on 7 August 2006

A fire has severely damaged three of the five generators in the capital of the Marshall Islands, causing at least two island-wide power outages.

The Marshalls Energy Company general manager, William F. Roberts, says the fire broke out in one of the two power plant buildings on Friday.

Mr Roberts says two of the three fire-damaged engines may be too badly burned to repair.

He says the cause of the fire is still unknown, though it is believed that it started in the "trench" below engine number three possibly because diesel fuel ignited.

The power company has two connected power plant buildings, both with 12-megawatt power capacity, to provide supplies.

Normally, power is delivered to Majuro's 28,000 population using a combination of the five generators in the old plant, built in 1982, and the two generators in the new facility, built in 1999.

Mr Roberts says that two of the five generators in the old plant appeared to be virtually unscathed by the fire, and engineers hoped to have those back on line soon, which is critical to preventing power rationing during engine maintenance.