EPP marketing manager Jo Barr said the fire occurred on Friday night around midnight when a grinder malfunctioned. The grinder turns grains into a flour-like consistency for further processing.
“There was no impact at all to our employees or our customers or the community. And because damage was minimal, we were able to get operations back up quickly. So we were able to resume operations,” Barr said.
She noted the fire occurred in the mixing plant, where they receive agricultural commodities like grains. There is no estimate for the cost of damage yet.
“We don’t have a dollar value at this stage. It’ll take a little bit to get there, just as we do a full assessment, but it will be minor,” Barr said.
Kieran Kelly, Elmira district fire chief, said they got the call at 12:52 a.m. and were on scene by 12:54 a.m.
“We were just up over the hill at 14 Arthur Street. We had just finished there, were just getting on the truck when the call came through,” Kelly said.
They had three Elmira fire trucks and four Floradale fire trucks on scene. He said the major part of the fire was out within three quarters of an hour, but then they had smoldering in the bin to take care of, which took considerable time to deal with.
“It was a direct attack where the hammermill was and the bag house,” Kelly said. “By direct attack we just do full stream so we go inside. We were alright with that. But up in the hopper, the storage bin, I think it was called finished product, that was different because for us to dump it then you get a dust explosion. We experienced that about 25 years ago, we weren’t going to do that again.”
They used the aerial to put a heavy blanket of foam and water on top of the product and churned it to make a slush. Then they emptied the bin under the cover of three hose streams.
“When the product was dumped you could see there was quite a bit that had been charred,” Kelly said.
They left just before 5 a.m.
Joe Samson, lead engineer, was on scene Saturday morning while crews cleaned up the mess. He said they have two grinding rooms side by side, and the fire was contained to one of them.
“This was a first time for us. The collection device underneath [the grinder] got a little bit charred,” Samson said.
Clean up involved removing water and wet ingredients from the surrounding area.
“At the end of the day, the incident that occurred over the weekend was very, very minor,” Barr said. “All the systems that were in place to engage fire department as well as our employees worked great, which is fantastic. It allowed the fire department to react very quickly, which really reduced the issue greatly.”