A fire destroyed one semi trailer, damaged two others, and did some damage to the ConAgra Foods plant in Archbold, Saturday night, July 20.
Andy Brodbeck, Archbold Fire Department chief, said a passerby noticed smoke coming from the plant. That passerby stopped at Archbold Fire Department station and notified the on-duty ALS-1 paramedic.
The paramedic then called Russ Wyse, AFD 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 on fire.
AFD firefighters attacked the blaze and were able to bring it under control.
The first trailer, nearest the building, was too severely damaged to moved.
A semi tractor was brought in. It pulled the remaining two trailers away from the dock. The contents of those trailers were unloaded and further doused with water.
A backhoe was used to remove the contents from the wreckage of the first trailer so it could be extinguished.
Brodbeck said as part of the production process, noodles that do not pass inspection are dumped into plastic bins, then loaded into trailers. Another company takes those 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.
As of Sunday night, July 21, 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,” Brodbeck said.
Once the first trailer containing the rejected noodles began burning, the fire spread to the second trailer, which contained waste: cardboard, empty cans, and plastic pails. The third trailer also contained waste, and 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 unload.
Firefighters emptying the trailers used their self-contained breathing apparatus, or air masks. They used several tanks of compressed air, and AFD began running short.
Brodbeck said Ridgeville Fire Department was called to assist because that department has a truck equipped to refill those 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 there were minor bumps and scrapes, but no firefighters were seriously injured.
In all, firefighters were on the scene about 4 1/2 hours, he said.
No Damage Estimate
Brodbeck said Sunday night he has not developed a damage estimate from the fire.