What We Know About The Hoover Dam Transformer Explosion

An electrical transformer exploded at the Hoover Dam on the morning of July 19, 2022, based on reporting from the Los Angeles Times. The Hoover Dam stores water in manmade Lake Mead, the source of drinking water for some 25 million people, according to PBS. When full, Lake Mead, the largest U.S. reservoir by volume, also provides power to three southwestern states including parts of California, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Dark plumes of smoke and flames were reported by witnesses before fire crews arrived on the scene. Located roughly 30 miles from Las Vegas, 7 million tourists visit the Hoover Dam each year. That makes the dam the most-visited structure of its kind on the planet, according to the National Park Service. Hundreds of people also travel to the Hoover Dam daily for work, as Fox News also explains. With Lake Mead already at unprecedented low water levels due to drought, serious fire damage at Hoover Dam could prove disastrous.

The fire at Hoover Dam started around 10 a.m.

The transformer fire at the Hoover Dam began around 10 a.m., according to Bureau of Reclamation Regional Director Jacklynn L. Gould (via Las Vegas news outlet KVVU). The transformer that exploded was located near the bottom of the dam.

As further reporting from the Los Angeles Times explains, several witnesses posted videos of the smoke and fire on Twitter. In footage that @kristynashville posted, a voice can be heard saying (via the Los Angeles Times), "My goodness, something has just blown up." A fire brigade run by the USBR responded to the call for help.

Construction on the Hoover Dam was complete by 1935 (via History). Some 21,000 men worked on the Depression-era project, as the United States Bureau of Reclamation (USBR) notes on their website. The Hoover Dam is located on the border of Arizona and Nevada. The dam was built in part to help create Lake Mead with water from the Colorado River, which often flooded, and as a source of water for the ballooning desert southwest population (via USBR).

Flames were extinguished before crews arrived

In addition to the United States Bureau of Reclamation fire brigade, fire crews from nearby Boulder City, Nevada, also responded to reports of the fire at Hoover Dam, as the Los Angeles Times also notes. By the time those crews arrived, though, the flames were extinguished, according to a statement from the City of Boulder City posted on Twitter. No injuries to employees or visitors were reported, according to Bureau of Reclamation Regional Director Jacklynn L. Gould (via CNN).

Gould said in a statement, "There is no risk to the power grid and power is still being generated from the powerhouse ... We are investigating the cause of the fire and will provide additional updates as they are available." Another angle on the Hoover Dam transformer fire was also posted by iris_jaded on TikTok. In it, an alarm can be heard to alert those working at or visiting the Hoover Dam to the danger. The flames from the Hoover Dam transformer fire were extinguished by 10:30 a.m., according to CNN.