Squirrel Causes Wissota Dam Fire

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A small explosion and fire at the Xcel Energy Lake Wissota dam on Monday caused a momentary power interruption, but officials say it could have been worse.

The Chippewa Fire Protection District says the incident was caused by a squirrel that got into some electrical equipment at the hydro plant at about 12:45 p.m.

"Had the (Xcel Energy) crew been down there, I think somebody would have been injured," says Chief John Neihart, "The crews that were in the plant were in the lunchroom. It was the lunch hour."

Xcel employees had extinguished most of the fire before firefighters arrived. The firefighters then put out the rest of the fire and checked to ensure there were no other problems.

In their news release on the incident the Chippewa Fire Protection District, which serves townships like Lafayette, took a good-natured swipe at their nearby big city neighbor by blaming the fire on a "Chippewa Falls squirrel" which "did not survive" the incident.