Oil leaking onto hot pipes started a fire in a reactor containment building yesterday at the St. Lucie Nuclear Plant, but workers quickly doused the flames and prevented any damage, officials said.

Florida Power & Light Co. spokesman Carl Pounds said the fire was extinguished in two minutes and posed no danger to the public.

One reactor worker suffered a separated shoulder when he slipped on oil. Another suffered minor heat exhaustion while fighting the fire, Pounds said. Both were treated at a hospital and released.

The fire started in a coolant pump cubicle as the utility was returning the plant's Unit 2 reactor to service after a two-week shutdown for repairs, Pounds said.

When the fire started, the reactor was in a "hot shutdown mode," meaning out of service but near operating temperature, said Joe Gilliland, a spokesman for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

The fire was not expected to interfere with plans to put the generator back in service today, Pounds said.

"We were in the process of bringing the unit back into service when we detected a vibration in the coolant pump. We don't know if the pump vibration was a factor in the leak," he said.

"At the time of the fire there were two employes in the cubicle to take measurements on the coolant pump to determine the source and cause of the vibration," Pounds said. "They extinguished the fire with the help of automatic equipment."