Power outage causes generator ‘explosion’ at Brady Sullivan tower

A power outage trigged a generator to go on, sparking a fire on the 21st floor of the Brady Sullivan Tower. Photo/Jeffrey Hastings

MANCHESTER, NH – A midday downtown power outage triggered a generator malfunction at 1000 Elm Street that sparked a small fire, forcing evacuation of the building.

Just before 1 p.m. several fire companies responded to the Brady Sullivan Tower for a report of a fire on the 21st floor.
Firefighters were advised that there had been a generator explosionReports from maintenance stated that the generator that was running due to a local power failure had a catastrophic failure and exploded spilling oil and fuel onto the floor and igniting. The Fire quickly engulfed the generator and caused a large volume of smoke to fill the 20th and 21st floor. Smoke also pushed its way
down to the lobby through the open elevator shafts.

Upon arrival the first due companies could not use the elevators due to the power failure and had to carry all their equipment up to the 21st floor. During the ascent one of our members had a minor medical emergency and couldn’t continue, the decision was made to strike a second alarm to bring more resources to the scene.

When crews finally reached the generator room the fire was extinguished and overhaul and ventilation began. Once the area was fully vented and all hazards mitigated The building was turned over to the building maintenance department and the under control was given. One member was brought to the hospital for evaluation.

Mayor Jay Ruais confers with firefighters after a power outage caused a generator to malfunction at the Brady Sullivan tower. Photo/Jeffrey Hastings

The building, which has a mix of luxury apartments and offices, was occupied by over 200 people according to Chief Cashin.

According to Eversource spokesman William Hinkle, at about noon a piece of electrical equipment failed in the area of Chestnut and Merrimack streets causing about 600 customers in the Brady Sullivan Plaza, Wall Street Tower, and the Mental Health Center of Greater Manchester to lose power.  Other nearby businesses reported power flickering around the same time, including City Hall.

“Within five minutes, most customers had their power restored using our remote power switching capabilities, and any remaining customers have since had their power restored,” Hinkle said.

The fire was brought under control in about one hour, and units cleared the scene a short time later.

Chief Cashin said that the building was turned over to Brady Sullivan and Eversource was at the scene working to restore power to the building. All occupants were allowed to re-enter the building, however the elevators were not operational.