SALEM, Ohio – Superior Dairy suffered “substantial” damage after a weekend fire, according to Stark County’s Perry Township fire chief.
The fire broke out around 5:30 p.m. March 12 at the plant on Navarre Road SW near Canton and burned more than 24 hours, according to Perry Fire Chief Gary Justice.
As of presstime, investigators were on the scene pinpointing the cause and origin of the fire.
Final damage figures weren’t available, but Justice said the fire was near Superior’s “newest [production] line.” No information was available from Superior as to the plant’s contents and losses.
On the scene. More than 29 fire departments, first aid and other support agencies responded to the call.
Firefighters battled the blaze until 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Justice said.
A short time later, departments were called back to the scene because part of the roof re-ignited.
Justice said firefighters were concerned about four anhydrous ammonia-charged cooling units on the building’s roof and were forced to fight the fire around those units.
The tanks kept firefighters from peeling back the roof to fight the fire from above until late Saturday.
“There were concerns the vessels could rupture, so we kept them cool and watered down,” Justice said.
Public safety. Firefighters were also concerned about the potential public health issue of ammonia vapors in the air and used a reverse 9-1-1 call for an evacuation-in-place, Justice said.
The Stark County Emergency Management Agency warned residents to stay inside their homes and turn off all heat and air conditioning units that may pull the vapors indoors.
Justice said there didn’t seem to be problems with compliance.
Now what? Superior’s CEO Joseph Soehnlen was not available to discuss fire details or whether the company would rebuild or expand in the wake of the fire.
(Reporter Andrea Myers welcomes reader feedback by phone at 1-800-837-3419, ext. 22, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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