Fri., 9:06am: Plant evacuated, suffers $1.5M damage

A blown transformer forced the evacuation of a day-shift employees at the Ventra Salem plant at 800 Pennsylvania Ave. at about 12:40 p.m. Thursday. Salem firefighters found smoke coming from the building with what appeared to be all the employees out of the building and paged in off-duty shifts to man the fire station. Firefighters were directed to the west wall and found a transformer on fire and used an extinguisher from the tower truck to provide a quick knock down of the fire. The tower was placed in service and a 1.75-inch hand line was extended from the engine to the door as a precaution. Ohio Edison was notified to disconnect the transformer and to isolate the problem. The transformer was in a stack of three transformers which appeared to damage a second unit. A masonry wall appeared to keep the flames contained to a specific area inside the building. Firefighters supplied electric power to a fan and to provide light in the area involved. The fan was used to cool down the transformer so Ohio Edison could remove the panels and firefighters could make sure the fire was extinguished. Once everything was OK on the scene, the fire equipment was placed back in service. There was no firefighting equipment damaged or firefighters injured. The damage estimate to the property was placed at $1.5 million. The property is valued at $50 million. The photos show the Salem Fire Department on scene at the transformer on the west side of the building and Ventra Salem employees who were evacuated mingling at the front of the building.