Tower of old OG&E power plant imploded

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Muskogee, OK- An earth-shattering blast Wednesday morning brought down part of the old OG&E power plant across from Three Forks Harbor.

A demolition crew planted charges to implode the tallest tower of the old Oklahoma Gas and Electric Co. power generating plant.

“As far as impact to the community of this old plant, it’s just losing an icon,” said Muskogee plant manager Jon Stogsdill. “Everyone recognizes it; my grandfather, he grew up farming right across the river.”

A one-minute warning siren, preceded by a five-minute siren, signaled at about 9:30 a.m. that the tower was about to come down. Dozens of spectators, many current and former OG&E employees, gathered at the harbor to watch the implosion.

Shortly after the one-minute warning, there were flashes of light, followed by the sound of the explosion.

The tower tipped to the south and collapsed. The collapse kicked up a plume of dust, and the wind carried the plume north toward the spectators.

Demolition of the aging structure began as a matter of safety, Swanson said. Just a week earlier, the roof of the old building caught fire and black smoke billowed out, according to a previous Phoenix story.

The roof of the building, which was being torn down then, caught fire at about 6 p.m. March 15, Muskogee Fire Marshal Ray Bob Daniels said last week. No one was injured. Fort Gibson and Muskogee firefighters extinguished the fire.

Stogsdill said there is an added benefit to the demolition: the reduced cost of maintenance.

“The maintenance costs of it, because of the old technology, are higher than a modern station … so it eventually just outruns its useful life,” Stogsdill said. “It costs too much for what it can provide in terms of usable power.”

The remaining two units of the plant, which was built in the 1920s, will be demolished by wrecking ball and bulldozer, said OG&E’s communications director, Randy Swanson. When they were constructed, they were known as the Riverbank Station, Stogsdill said.

The oldest units of the plant were taken out of commission in 1983. Several decades earlier, they were converted to natural gas. The tallest tower, added in the 1950s, was used for supplemental power until 2009. It was always natural gas, Stogsdill said.

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