One injured in Sitka Coast Guard boiler explosion

A civilian contractor was injured Wednesday at Coast Guard Air Station Sitka when a biomass boiler exploded in the station’s main hangar. This incident happened about 12:30 p.m.  The injured man was transported by local EMS to the hospital.

Commanding officer Ward Sandlin said Air Station Sitka personnel and local authorities are working with investigators to determine the cause of the explosion. The station’s other two biomass boilers have been shut down pending the results of the investigation.

Air Station Sitka is the first base in the Coast Guard to convert to the biomass system, which burns wood pellets instead of fuel oil.

Wednesday’s incident comes less than a week after U.S. Senator Mark Begich toured the boiler and praised the project. Air Station Sitka was testing the new wood pellet system, and hoped to have it fully operational by November 1st.