Colorado Plant Fire kills five workers

by Leanne Gregg
NBC News

Five workers trapped more than 1,000 feet underground from a chemical fire at Xcel's cabin creek hydroelectric plant in Colorado have died.

The workers were last heard from about 45 minutes after a fire broke out at the plant Tuesday afternoon.
Emergency crews rushed to this hydroelectric plant near Georgetown, Colorado to help rescue 5 workers trapped in an empty water tunnel by a fire more than 1,000 feet underground.

Initially the workers were communicating with rescuers who had sent an air pipe and air masks down to them shortly after the fire broke out. But later came the grim discovery.

Stu Nay of the Clear Creek Co. Sheriff's Office said "we have found the parties that went into the tunnel, there are 5 fatalities."

The plant had been shut down for repairs on an underground channel which delivers water that generates electricity. The workers had been applying an epoxy paint when the fire broke out.

4 of them fled through a main entrance. Authorities said the other five were trapped more than 1,000 feet below ground.

Tim Taylor, the CEO of Xcel Energy Company said "we're deeply saddened to hear of their deaths, and our sympathies absolutely go out to their families."

Officials said a problem with a piece of equipment caused the fire.

They're still trying to determine exactly how the workers died.