Oil Leak Sparks South Bay Power Plant Blaze

An oil leak sparked a fire Tuesday that caused an estimated $25,000 in damage to the South Bay Power Plant, authorities reported.

The non-injury blaze erupted about 7:30 a.m., when the spilling turbine lubricant caught fire and set insulation ablaze at the Duke Energy compound on Bay Boulevard in Chula Vista, according to Deputy Fire Chief Jim Wenzel.

It took about three dozen firefighters roughly three hours to fully extinguish the flames, which burned through a small but hard-to-access interior area, he said.

Adding to crews' difficulties were high temperatures and the burning insulation, which created thick smoke believed to contain asbestos. "So we had to be real careful with air contamination," Wenzel said.

Along with self-contained breathing devices, the personnel had to wear ear protectors due to the plant's everyday noise, which also forced them to go outside periodically to make sure they were communicating clearly, he said.

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