HICKSVILLE, N.Y.— The Dalton Fire Department responded to a fire at the Columbia Recycling plant at 1001 Chattanooga Ave., at 7 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 27.
The fire was partially contained by the building’s sprinkler system, and was put out shortly after firefighter response. The fire — the third at the plant since 2007 — was contained to building five, and officials said there is little to no damage to the building’s structure.
Columbia’s vice president Rocky Ponders said one of his employees called him at about 6:30 a.m. alerting him there was a fire in building five. Once the fire was under control later that morning, he described the damage as “very minimal, and we’ll be back up and running within 24 hours.”
Dalton Fire Department Deputy Chief Gary Baggett said firefighter Tim Akins was treated at Hamilton Medical Center for symptoms of heat exhaustion, but was later reported in good condition. There were no other injuries.
Baggett said the fire’s cause is still under investigation, but it’s clear that it began in some bales of carpet scraps. The company sends the scraps through a series of grinders to be recycled into other products.
“There’s a lot of real fine material in the building, but as far as we can tell, no machinery was involved (in igniting the fire),” Baggett said. “This was just stacked up bales of carpet scrap … That’s what’s going to make it a little hard (to tell how it started), but there could have been a spark from a light ballast or a motor nearby. The stuff is so combustible, it wouldn’t have taken a whole lot to get it going.”
The Deputy Chief said about 20 firefighters were on the scene until about noon on Tuesday. Visibility was zero, so they used a thermal imaging camera to find the seed of the fire and used lift trucks on site to move the burning or burnt bales of carpet outside the building.
During the first fire in 2007, a line supervisor was killed and two other employees were injured in the blaze that started in the old Crown Cotton Mill portion of the business. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) found 11 “serious” safety violations and levied $41,400 in fines after an investigation.
In January 2010, there was another fire at the plant, which manufactures conveyor belt material from recycled waste. Ponders said it will be a few days before company officials will know more about the cause of the latest fire and how much damage was done.
The cause of the fire is under investigation.