Pressurized steam causes white smoke to emanate from power plant

White smoke emerged from the Biola power plant on Sunday.


Kalli Thommen/THE CHIMES

Katie Nelson, Writer

An excessive amount of steam billows out of the power plant building next to Crowell Hall at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday, October 3. | Kalli Thommen/THE CHIMES


Lauren Frey and Josh Kristianto contributed reporting


Steam in Biola’s power plant reached an abnormally high pressure Sunday around 1:30 p.m., forcing excess vapor to rise from the building, according to Los Angeles County fire captain Skip Berry. An alarm sounded for approximately 20 minutes before power plant operator Joseph Hidy arrived on the scene around 2:11 p.m. and silenced it.

Had a safety valve not been in place to relieve the pressure, the plant would have exploded, Berry said.

“It was a buildup in steam pressure, so that was the relief valve releasing the extra steam and pressure so it wouldn’t blow up,” he said. “The thing operated the way it should’ve.”

Campus Safety showed up to assess the damage and left at approximately 2:18 p.m., leaving the firefighters to pack up their truck.

“I don’t have any concerns … at this point,” firefighter Eddie Turner said. “We’re still gathering some more information [about why it happened]. Things are safe right now.”

Makaela Howard was at Biola visiting friends for the day when she noticed the incident at the power plant.

“I just came up and saw the smoke, and then the next thing I know, the firetruck came up,” she said. “I saw the smoke was white, and normally when there’s white smoke, it’s not a fire.”

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