Monday, 16 September 2019 19:55

No injuries in fire at Rockingham Cascades plant

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No injuries in fire at Rockingham Cascades plant Rockingham Fire Department

ROCKINGHAM — It’s not unusual to have a fire at a paper plant, according to a corporate spokesman for Cascades.

However, the one at the Rockingham plant early Monday morning was a little unusual.

The Rockingham Fire Department was dispatched around 5:22 a.m. and when crews arrived on scene there was heavy smoke coming from the roof and fire coming from two exhaust fans at the back of the building, according to Chief Harold Isler.

Visibility, Isler said, was “next to zero” when firemen entered the building.

He said the fire took about 50 minutes to control.

The problem with this fire, he added, was that it stayed in the ceiling — above the plant’s fire-suppression system.

Isler said there had been a fire earlier in the night that workers had tried to put out. However, they believe there was a dust explosion and that the exhaust fans pulled the fire into the ceiling.

All employees got out safely and there were 10-12 outside when crews arrived, according to Isler.

Cordova Fire and Rescue responded with a truck and manpower for mutual aid.

Duke Energy was called to disconnect the power.

With the extensive smoke and fire damage, Isler estimated that the plant would be closed for a while.

Damage to the building was estimated at $200,000 and damage to the contents and machinery was estimated at $1.5 million, according to Isler.

The Canada-based company has around 90 units across North America and Europe, according to its website. The Rockingham plant is one of three facilities in North Carolina. The other two are in Wagram and Kinston.