OHIO - General Mills Plant Damaged by Stubborn Fire

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Title: General Mills plant damaged by stubborn fire

April 1, 2000

A difficult-to-pinpoint and tough-to-fight fire last night at the General Mills plant on Laskey Road caused $500,000 damage and forced the evacuation of the 75 employees working in the facility at the time.

Battalion Fire Chief Frank Keating said the blaze started as a result of a malfunction in a 15-foot-by-40-foot dryer, which is used to dry cereal.

"The fire was so hot it actually melted steel framework and steel casing at the top of the dryer and extended a little into [other parts of] the plant," he said.

"This was a serious fire. It had the potential to take a part of this [block-long] building down," Chief Keating said.

The blaze initially was reported at 9:08 p.m. as a commercial fire alarm. The fire department sent a single pumper to the plant at 1250 West Laskey Rd. to investigate, and the crew found smoke in the building.

The firefighters, unable to find the source of the smoke and with the smoke getting more intense, asked for a regular alarm at 9:16 p.m.

About four minutes later, firefighters turned in a second alarm.

Meanwhile, the workers in the plant were evacuated.

After much searching, firefighters, assisted by the plant's fire brigade, traced the smoke to a dryer in the cereal processing part of the plant.

Firefighters reported about 9:50 p.m. that they and the plant's sprinkler system were holding the fire in check. An hour later, firefighters reported that the main body of the blaze had been extinguished and that they were checking for extensions that may have occurred through pipes leading to and from the dryer.

Firefighters and plant personnel disassembled portions of the stainless steel dryer and associated piping.

The Washington Township fire department provided its hover craft to help get smoke out of the building.

Wayne Clive, the plant's manager, said no one was hurt in the blaze.

The plant, which employs about 630 people, is General Mills's largest cereal-making facility, each day producing more than 1 million boxes of Cheerios, Trix, Cocoa Puffs, and Lucky Charms.

The plant also makes Betty Crocker cake mixes.

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-- (Dee360Degree@aol.com), April 01, 2000

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