Large fire caused by failure of transformer on Brunot Island, officials say

PITTSBURGH — Emergency crews were called to a fire on Brunot Island Monday evening.

PHOTOS: Smoke billowing from fire after reactor ‘catastrophically failed’ on Brunot Island

Photos and videos shared with Channel 11 from viewers show smoke filling the sky as flames sprouted from the island in the Ohio River.

A Pittsburgh Public Safety report said the fire was caused by the failure of a specialized transformer at the Duquesne Light facility.

Flames could be seen from miles away. While the island is in Pittsburgh’s Marshall-Shadeland neighborhood, images and videos sent to Channel 11 are from as far back as Ross Township.

Officials said no one was hurt in the blaze and the fire and any related hazards are contained to Brunot Island.

Fire personnel and those working on the blaze had pulled out due to safety concerns.

“We arrived with our crews and had a large fire and some small detonations happening on the island as a result of a reactor failure,” told Channel 11 Assistant Chief Brian Kokkila of the Pittsburgh Bureau of Fire at the scene Monday night.. “This is a catastrophic failure of a reactor, which is part of a power grid.”

Kokkila said oil inside the reactor was burning.

Duquesne Light released the following statement about the fire after 9 a.m. Tuesday:

Fire crews successfully put out the fire on Brunot Island overnight. Our crews remain on the scene to assess the full damage, which was contained to the area around the transformer, and have begun the cleanup process. The incident has not resulted in any injuries, threats to the public or disruption to electric service. We will continue investigating the cause and working with the appropriate agencies to ensure the continued safety of our employees, customers and the environment. We thank everyone involved for their hard and diligent work in getting this matter resolved safely.

Officials said the scene cleared just after 2 a.m.

The Norfolk Southern Rail line that crosses the Ohio River over Brunot Island was temporarily shut down during the fire and emergency operation but has since reopened.

Overnight, the Pittsburgh Bureau of Fire was able to extinguish the fire and douse it with additional water to cool down the site, according to the report. There was no threat to the public.

Along with Duquesne Light, the Pittsburgh Bureau of Fire will continue to investigate.

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