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Fire breaks out at Calif. water pumping plant

OROVILLE, Calif. (AP) -- A fire broke out Thursday at a California water pumping plant, but it isn't expected to interrupt delivery to residents.

The fire began about 7 a.m. at the Ronald B. Robie Thermalito Pumping-Generating plant near Oroville, about 70 miles north of Sacramento.

The fire continued to burn, and firefighters had to stay out the five-story building because of collapsing equipment, zero visibility and other possible hazards, said Ted Thomas, a spokesman for the state's Department of Water Resources.

No one has been injured.

Officials are unsure about how much of the facility has been damaged, but Thomas said he expects the damage to be extensive.

The plant generates hydroelectric power and can be bypassed so service isn't interrupted. Damage to the plant, however, will reduce electrical generation, meaning additional power to pump water will have to be purchased.

The facility is run by the State Water Project, which delivers water to more than 25 million Californians and nearly 1 million acres of irrigated farmland.

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