The power-deficit State has suffered yet another jolt when a major fire broke out in the Mettur Thermal Power Station in the wee hours of Thursday thus totally crippling the functioning of all its four generating units 210 MW of installed capacity. The power generation loss is estimated to be around 20.16 MU.

The fire that destroyed the entire coal conveyor system also killed a filed assistant and injured two others including an Assistant Engineer, who were on duty then. The fire, noticed in the 400-metre long main coal carrying conveyor belt between Tower I and Tower II at 2 am, had spread to milling plant and later to Bunker Top. Fire tenders from Mettur, Omalur, Edapadi, Bhavani and neighbouring areas fought for five hours to bring the 20-feet high burning coal induced fire under control.

Police and Fire Service personnel found field assistant Nallathambi (55) dead with burning injuries lying beside the collapsed conveyor system while another assistant Gopal and Assistant Engineer Adiyaman were found unconscious and injured. While Gopal was shifted to a Coimbatore hospital in a serious condition, Adiyaman was admitted to the Mettur Government Hospital where he is said to be recovering

“We are assessing the situation and restoration works will be undertaken on war-footing,” Plant’s Chief Engineer M. Madhu told 'The Hindu.’ The fire, he said, could have been caused either by the friction in rollers under the conveyor system or an electrical short circuit. “The entire conveyor system that carry coal from coal yards to feed the boilers of all the four 210 MW units have crashed,” said Mr. Madhu.

The stand-by system also was damaged in the fire. With no further feeding of the coal, all the four units of the Power Station had ceased to generate power from 4 pm on Thursday thus brining the Plant operations to a grinding halt. Just prior to the accident, the plant had been producing power to its fullest capacity. A senior official however, pointed out that it would take at least a month to make the Plant fully operational.

A fire broke out in the conveyor system some two months back. Alert workers however doused it before it went out of control. District Revenue Officer S Prasanna Venkatesan and SP Ashwin M Kotnis supervised the relief operations. A high level team from Chennai also would be visiting the plant to assess the situation.