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Quick thinking limits fire at Hyrum pallet manufacturer

January 28th, 2011 Posted in Opinion

By Melissa Pearl Youngberg
Aggie TV News

HYRUM—Sparks ignited a sawdust fire at the pallet manufacturing warehouse in Hyrum Wednesday afternoon

Hyrum Fire Chief Cardell Nielsen said the fire at Timberland Pallets, at 369 W. Main St., broke out in the steel hopper that contains sawdust expelled from the pallet shop.

Timberland manager and vice president Jason Moss said the fire started when three carbide tips broke off a saw blade and made enough sparks in the hopper, or chute, to ignite the dust and wood shavings.

When the fire broke out, Moss told his workers to open a vent and let the hopper continue to run to contain the fire in the sawdust collector. The HFD’s Nielsen said the fire department had been to the warehouse about five years ago with a similar problem.

During the previous fire, workers shut down all equipment, which permitted the flames to travel back into the facility and caused significant damage to the hopper and buildings.

Keeping the machinery running limited the damage. “Unless the motor and the bearing got hot on the top, all they need is a paint job,” Nielsen said.

Shavings and sawdust in the hopper are extremely flammable, and heated tips from the saws can smolder in the hopper, and metal embedded in the wood can spark when the saws hit it.

“We find bullets, staples, nails—there’s a lot of things we find in the wood,” Moss said.

Moss’s quick thinking in keeping the motors running prevented more extensive damage.

“I think they’re doing their job,” Nielsen said. “It’s just one of those things that go along with what they’re doing.”

No damage estimates were available.

Melissa Youngberg covered Wednesday’s fire for Aggie TV News. Her story aired on the ATV newscast Thursday.


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