Fire at Upper Montgomery Joint Authority plant believed to be related
Electricity was out in parts of Pennsburg borough for approximately 12 hours Saturday night into Sunday morning thanks to a single-vehicle accident in Upper Hanover. The accident is also believed to have caused a transformer fire at the Upper Montgomery Joint Authority sewer plant, which took down that facility’s main power.
The transformer fire is estimated to have caused between $500,000 and $750,000 worth of damage, said authority Plant Manager Glenn Quinn Tuesday.
According to state police, Eric Dieterly, 25, of Topton, was driving a 2000 Chevrolet S10 north on Route 663 when he fell asleep behind the wheel and crashed into a utility pole at the intersection of School House Road. Police said Dieterly was unhurt.
According to Pennsburg Fire Company Assistant Chief Joe Sink, Dieterly’s pickup impacted two utility poles at the location, which pulled down wires. Power outages were reported from Eighth and Seminary streets to Montgomery Avenue and Pottstown Avenue. Electricity was restored sometime around 8 a.m. by PPL Utility crews, officials said.
Firefighters from Pennsburg, Hereford and East Greenville were soon called to a transformer fire at the sewer plant, located at 1100 Mensch Dam Road in Upper Hanover. The fire, thought to have been caused by a power surge from the downed lines, engulfed a transformer at the location.
Sink said emergency responders set up a water barrier between the transformer and six, 500-lb. propane tanks less than 100 feet away. The fire was declared under control a short time later.
The exact cause of the fire is still under investigation. Total damages are still being determined.
Quinn said the authority had no interruption of services and incurred no violations due to the fire. An emergency generator took over during the power outage and a portable generator was brought in to supply power to the plant.
BSI Electrical Contractors of Montgomeryville later came in and set up a temporary substation connecting the plant to PPL Utilities again.
“We were lucky in the sense it was in the evening and there was no rain event,” Quinn added.
Also assisting at the scene of the fire was Upper Hanover Fire Marshall Jeff Ashman. Red Hill Fire Police assisted at the accident scene.