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Hoover Dam explosion today – live: Transformer fire caused explosion at hydroelectric power station on drought-ravaged Lake Mead

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Hoover Dam explosion, fire captured on video

A fire and explosion shook Nevada’s iconic Hoover Dam on Tuesday morning.

At 1:11 p.m., bystander Kristy Hairston tweeted a video saying she was “touring the Hoover Dam” when she “heard an explosion.”

“My goodness, something just exploded,” a witness can be heard in the video.

Boulder City, Nevada, officials said the fire at the dam has been extinguished.

The US Bureau of Reclamation, which oversees the dam, said Tuesday a transformer caught fire, but that the fire brigade was able to extinguish the fire without incident.

No one was injured in the blast, according to the agency, and the electrical grid is still working.

Completed in 1935, the iconic dam provides water power to millions of people in Nevada, Arizona and California.

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Bystanders describe Hoover dam fire: ‘A ton of black smoke just exploded in the sky’

The Hoover Dam is one of the most popular tourist sites in the US, so it’s no surprise that many witnesses attended Tuesday morning when a broken transformer caused a fire and explosion at the massive hydroelectric power plant.

“A ton of black smoke has just exploded in the air. It almost looked like a mushroom and then a fire ensued,” William Herro, 13, of San Francisco, said in an interview with… The Washington Post. “I was really surprised and started filming.”

The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

Here’s our report on what happened.

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Lake Mead water levels at record high

The Hoover Dam was built to enclose Lake Mead, the largest reservoir in the US. But that massive reservoir has now shrunk to record depths amid a historic mega-drought in the western US triggered by the climate crisis.

Lake Mead was 1,041 feet above sea level Tuesday and has fallen about 25 feet since early 2021, according to the Bureau of Reclamation, which manages operations. At only 27 percent of its capacity, that low water level has left a distinctive “tub ring” of white mineral around the shoreline.

Early Tuesday afternoon, the temperature at the Hoover Dam was 106F.

Recent images have shown how severe the effects of the drought on Lake Mead have been. The low water levels have revealed the original inlet valves for the city of Las Vegas’ water supply for the first time. A World War II plane has also emerged from the rapidly shrinking depths, a speedboat stuck vertically in the bottom of the lake — and the rotting corpse of an 1980s murder victim in an oil drum.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation by The Bureau of Reclamation.

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Hoover Dam fires hit an already fragile power plant

The fire at the Hoover Dam couldn’t have come at a worse time.

As reporter Alexander Kaufman points out, the hydroelectric plant attached to the dam is already struggling to produce power as water levels in Lake Mead reach record depths.

As Louise Boylea has reported, experts believe the dam could stop producing power altogether in the next few years due to the western megadrought.

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Terrifying Lake Mead Photos Show Just How Bad the Drought Has Become

The Hoover Dam fire is just the latest shocking news item that draws attention to the region’s massive waterworks.

The climate crisis-induced drought that has plagued much of the American West has caused waterlines to fall at Lake Mead, the nation’s largest reservoir, which was created when the Hoover Dam was built on the Colorado River.

Ethan Freedman has this take on what’s going on at Lake Mead.

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PHOTOS: Firefighters battle fire at Hoover Dam

Officials have released photos of firefighters fighting a blaze at the Hoover Dam.

According to the US Bureau of Reclamation, a transformer caught fire on Tuesday morning.

The photos show firefighters, as well as an automated sprinkler system, working to stop the fire, which was extinguished shortly after it started.

Firefighters spray water on a burning transformer at Hoover Dam on July 19, 2022.

(Complaints Office)

(Complaints Office)

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Not that kind of Transformer fire…

Officials have said a transformer caught fire at the Hoover Dam on Tuesday morning.

That has some online jokes about scenes from the Transformers movie franchise, where the iconic dam hides a research breed from giant fighting robots.

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Bidding on ‘climate emergency declaration’

While it’s so far unclear what caused the Hoover Dam fire Tuesday morning, many parts of the western US and beyond are experiencing wildfires as a result of the climate crisis.

That reportedly has Joe Biden thinking about declaring a national climate emergency and tapping federal resources to tackle the crisis.

Gustaf Kilander, Ethan Freedmanand Louise Boylea explore what such a statement could mean for the planet.

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Texas congressional candidate calls Hoover Dam sign of ‘climate emergency’

Russell Foster, a Texan running for a Democrat for a seat in Congress, says today’s Hoover Dam fire is the latest sign of the climate crisis.

Authorities are still investigating what caused a transformer to catch fire at the dam, but the incident came as many parts of the world struggled with climate-induced heat waves.

“Texas and the American West are on fire. The Hoover Dam just had an explosion,” Russell wrote on social media on Tuesday. “Heavy waves all over the Northern Hemisphere this week. London burns. It won’t get better around the world until we address our climate emergency. We can’t handle it, we have to solve this problem.”

Here’s part of our reporting on the recent heat.

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What is the role of the Hoover Dam?

The Hoover Dam is one of the most famous pieces of civil engineering in the United States and is a major tourist attraction and an essential source of energy for much of the West.

The dam has created and impounded Lake Mead, which when full in non-drought years is the largest reservoir in the US, and the generators supply power to public and private utilities in Nevada, Arizona and California.

Each year, the dam generates 4.5 billion kilowatt hours of hydroelectric power for use in the three states, enough to serve approximately 8 million people in the region.

The Bureau of Reclamation says that during peak periods of electricity, enough water flows through the generators to fill 15 average-sized swimming pools — 20,000 gallons each — in one second.

Graeme Massie has the details.

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Bystander says bridge over Hoover Dam ‘vibrated’ after explosion

TikTok user @iris_jaded says she captured this morning’s fire and explosion at Hoover Dam from a different angle.

“We saw it explode. It was very big,” she says in the clip. “The bridge where we are now is shaking.”

An alarm can be heard in the background in the video.


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