MICHIGAN CITY | Operations are back to normal at the Michigan City NIPSCO generating station after a fire.
The fire erupted just before noon Friday at the coal-fired plant along U.S. 12 on the city's west side.
A call was placed to 911 and the entire plant, occupied by about 50 employees and contractors, was evacuated while NIPSCO staff and firefighters from Michigan City extinguished the blaze.
NIPSCO spokesperson Angie Nelson said the fire started in one of the coal feeders on the fourth floor of the generating station.
She said the feeder is a conveyor which transports coal into the plant to burn for producing electricity.
Nelson said the fire was contained in 15 minutes, and there was minimal damage to the equipment and no structural damage.
The cause of the fire was not known, but ''that's part of the investigation phase,'' said Nelson.
Nelson also said there was no interruption in service to customers of NIPSCO, which has two other electric power plants – the Bailly generating station outside Chesterton and the Schahfer generation station in Wheatfield.
NIPSCO spokesman Nick Meyer said the utility also has a natural gas powered electric generation station in Terre Haute and two hydro electric generating plants along the Tippecanoe River.
He said the Michigan City plant supplies electricity to 20 to 25 percent of NIPSCO's 457,000 electric customers.
The Wheatfield plant supplies nearly half of its customers with electricity.
All of the employees and contractors were allowed to return to the Michigan City generating station Friday afternoon and after a clean-up the plant returned to normal operations by the end of the day.
Nelson said the generating station at the time of the fire was in the process of being temporarily shutdown, something that occurs periodically for plant inspections and ''reliability checks.''
No dollar figure damage estimates were given.