Terror In The Tunnel: The Xcel Energy Cabin Creek Fire

Course Number: H-1009
Credit: 1 PDH
Subject Matter Expert: Edward P. Brunet, Jr., P.E.
Price: $29.95 Purchase using Reward Tokens. Details
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In Terror In The Tunnel: The Xcel Energy Cabin Creek Fire , you'll learn ...

  • The root cause of the Xcel Energy Cabin Creek fire, as well as how management and operational decisions contributed to the incident
  • Shortcomings in the facility’s training, safety precautions, and procedures
  • The inherent dangers of working in confined spaces
  • How safety can be compromised because of cost and/or schedule constraints


PDHengineer Course Preview

Preview a portion of this course before purchasing it.

Credit: 1 PDH

Length: 20 pages

On October 2, 2007, a chemical fire inside a permit-required confined space at Xcel Energy‘s hydroelectric plant in a remote mountain location 45 miles west of Denver, Colorado, killed five and injured three workers.

Industrial painting contractors were in the initial stages of recoating the 1,530-foot steel portion of a 4,300-foot enclosed penstock tunnel with an epoxy coating product when a flash fire occurred. Flammable solvent being used to clean the epoxy application equipment in the open penstock atmosphere ignited, likely from a static spark.

The initial fire quickly grew as it ignited additional buckets of solvent and substantial amounts of combustible epoxy material, trapping and preventing five of the 11 workers from exiting the single point of egress within the penstock.

Fourteen community emergency response teams responded to the incident. The five trapped workers communicated using handheld radios with co-workers and emergency responders for approximately 45 minutes before succumbing to smoke inhalation.

In this course, we’ll review the causes of the fire. We’ll also explore the reasons why the workers were unable to escape the tunnel, as well as why attempts to rescue the workers were unsuccessful.

Specific Knowledge or Skill Obtained

This course teaches the following specific knowledge and skills:

  • What caused the Xcel fire
  • The need to plan for hazardous work
  • The importance of considering safety records in the contractor selection process
  • Regulatory standards pertaining to the use of flammables within confined spaces
  • Technical aspects of coating a penstock
  • Worker training deficiencies that contributed to the Xcel incident

Certificate of Completion

You will be able to immediately print a certificate of completion after passing a multiple-choice quiz consisting of 10 questions. PDH credits are not awarded until the course is completed and quiz is passed.

Board Acceptance
This course is applicable to professional engineers in:
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