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Consumers Energy reveals cause of Ray Twp. fire that led to request for people to lower thermostats

Officials reveal cause of fire at Ray Compressor Station after investigation

Consumers Energy's Ray Compressor Station in Ray Township. (WDIV)
Consumers Energy's Ray Compressor Station in Ray Township. (WDIV)

RAY TOWNSHIP, Mich. – Consumers Energy has revealed the cause of the fire at the Ray Township compressor station that led the company to ask customers to lower their thermostats.

The incident at the Ray Compressor Station on Jan. 30 happened when there were extremely cold temperatures in Southeast Michigan. Due to historically high gas demand, Consumers Energy asked customers to dial back their thermostats and conserve natural gas use in their homes and businesses, the company said.

READ: Consumers Energy says it's prepared to better handle near-shutdowns in future

After a two-month investigation, Consumers Energy said the fire was caused by a combination of these three factors:

  • A plume of natural gas released by the safety fire-gate system was the fuel source.
  • Air outside the plant mixed with the natural gas because of strong winds.
  • Extremely hot equipment caused the natural gas-air mixture to ignite.

There was no evidence of failure to properly maintain the equipment, the company said.

Consumers Energy is working with the Michigan Public Service Commission, which is conducting an independent analysis of the fire.

"The fire at the Ray Station was precipitated by a safety venting fire-gate process that is proven safe and effective," Consumers Energy officials said in a statement. "However, under unique and extreme weather conditions, the process became hazardous. We plan to address the issue at the Ray Compressor Station and implement new procedures across our natural gas fleet to further enhance resiliency and help avoid failure in these extraordinary circumstances. We appreciate and thank our customers across Michigan for all they did to help Consumers Energy and their neighbors during the unprecedented January event."