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Electric plant fire in Colorado kills 5 trapped workers

A chemical fire at a hydroelectric plant near Georgetown, Colo., killed five workers who were trapped inside an empty water tunnel on Tuesday, authorities said.

A chemical fire at a hydroelectric plantnearGeorgetown, Colo., killed five workers who were trapped inside an empty water tunnel on Tuesday, authorities said.

A rescue crew went in from the bottom of the tunnel to put out the fire and found the bodies, said Clear Creek County undersheriff Stu Nay.

"We have found the parties. We have five fatalities," Nay said.

Xcel Energy spokeswoman Ethnie Groves previously said that workers had initially communicated that they weren't injured but it wasn't clear how many times they had communicated with authorities after that.

After the fire broke out, the five workers had rushed uphill to a section of the pipe that had been blocked off to prevent ground water from seeping into it, authorities said.

They were among a group of workers who were in the tunnel when the fire broke out at 2 p.m. on a machine being used to coat the inside of the pipe with epoxy, Groves said.

Four workers below the fire were able to scramble out of the bottom of the tunnel, which goes through a mountain to a small reservoir.

Two of the four workers who scrambled out from the more than three-metre-wide pipe were treated for chemical inhalation. One was airlifted to a hospital, Groves said.

The water tunnel had been shut down for routine maintenance when the fire broke out.

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