Minor fire flares up at Poet plantLOOMIS — Flames broke out on a drier at the Poet ethanol plant Wednesday, but the fire was contained within a couple of hours and business continued as usual.
By: Lisa Kirkie The Daily Republic, Worthington Daily Globe
LOOMIS — Flames broke out on a drier at the Poet ethanol plant Wednesday, but the fire was contained within a couple of hours and business continued as usual.
Crews battled frigid temperatures to extinguish the blaze; the temperature at the time of the fire was minus-6, with wind chills dipping to minus-28.
There was no report of injuries to employees or emergency personnel, according to plant General Manager Dean Frederickson.
“Some grain in the drier got too hot and it caught on fire,” he said. “Our team responded to the fire, which they are trained for. We decided as a safety precaution to contact the fire department and they helped us put it out.”
The plant, which employs 40 people, had 20 people on shift during the fire. Two people initially saw the fire and alerted personnel.
Even as firefighters were battling the fire, the plant remained in operation, said Poet media relations specialist Matt Merritt. Semi-trucks were lined up inside and outside of the plant waiting for the approval to conduct business.
The Mobile Emergency Operation Center was deployed to the scene by Mitchell Fire Chief Steve Willis.
“The reason I requested the MEOC is because it looked to me like it was going to be a longer-term situation and that way we could have the command post there and have it separate from the immediate scene,” said Willis. Because of the increased likelihood of a fire breaking out at the ethanol plant, Merritt said employees are well prepared if one does flare up.
“We invite the fire department to come to the plant annually to ensure that they understand the layout, know what chemicals are present, make sure their hoses connect to our equipment and address any other issues,” he said.
“We familiarize the fire department with our sprinkler systems, deluge systems and other safeguards at the plant. We also assist the firefighters in working through various scenarios so that everyone is prepared in case of any incident.”
The Letcher Fire Department was the first public responder. Once on scene, Letcher crews asked for help from Mitchell, Willis said.
In turn, Willis asked for extra manpower from the Rosedale and Mount Vernon fire departments. The Davison County Sheriff’s Office and Davison County Search and Rescue also responded.