A version of this article was posted to ArchboldBuckeye.com at approximately 1 am, Monday, July 22.
A fire destroyed one semi trailer, damaged two others, and did damage to the ConAgra Foods plant in Archbold, Saturday night, July 20.
Andy Brodbeck, fire chief, said a passerby noticed smoke coming from the plant.
The person stopped at the fire station and notified the on-duty ALS-1 paramedic.
The paramedic called Russ Wyse, assistant chief, who lives near the plant. Wyse investigated, discovered the fire, and called in the alarm at about 9:30 pm.
Brodbeck said when firefighters arrived, they found three semi trailers, parked at the loading dock in the plant shipping area, burning.
Firefighters attacked the blaze and brought it under control.
The first trailer, nearest to the building, was too severely damaged to be moved.
A semi tractor was brought in and pulled the remaining two trailers away from the dock. Their contents were unloaded and doused with water.
A backhoe removed the contents from the wreckage of the first trailer so it could be fully extinguished.
Brodbeck said as part of the ConAgra production process, noodles that do not pass inspection are dumped into plastic bins, then loaded into trailers. Another company takes the noodles and feeds them to pigs.
Sometimes, noodles are rejected and loaded into the bins soon after they are cooked. Some hot cooking oil also ends up in the bins.
Brodbeck said the official cause of the fire is listed as undetermined, but he said evidence points to the rejected noodles.
“The fire started inside the noodle trailer. It didn’t start underneath the trailer or outside the trailer,” he said.
Once the first semi trailer containing the rejected noodles began burning, the fire spread to the second trailer, which contained waste– cardboard, empty cans, and plastic pails.
A third trailer also con- tained waste. It, too, caught fire.
Firefighters had to unload the two waste trailers mostly by hand. In some instances, a pallet jack was used to help.
Firefighters emptying the trailers used self-contained breathing apparatus, or air masks. They used several tanks of compressed air, and AFD began to run short.
Brodbeck said the Ridgeville Fire Department was called to assist because that department has a truck equipped to refill air tanks.
A rehabilitation station was set up for firefighters coming out of the battle. The on-duty paramedic monitored the condition of the firefighters before allowing them to return to work.
Brodbeck said no firefighters were seriously injured.
In all, firefighters were on the scene about 4 1/2 hours, he said.
No Damage Estimate
Brodbeck said Monday he has not developed a damage estimate from the fire.