Tuesday, August 10, 2010


Elyria – Although a crew of Firefighters will remain on scene of United Initiators at 555 Garden Street throughout the night Assistant Chief Ron Brlas of the Elyria Fire Department said that everything looks clear for now. “A crew will remain on scene overnight to monitor the situation and then first thing in the morning we will meet with the plant officials and evaluate the situation again to see where we stand.”

Brlas said that when he first arrived on scene he had a large volume of fire at an outside holding facility and huge clouds of black smoke filling the air. “We first took a defensive attack until we were able to meet with plant personnel to determine what had happened inside. We were told that it was Organic Peroxide burning in the skim tank.” Brlas said that all of the product from the plant goes through the skim tank and with the recent high temperatures the chemicals decomposed and self-ignited.

The attack changed from defensive to an aggressive offensive attack once Fire Officials learned of other tanks nearby that could possibly explode. Brlas said that Firefighters entered the building with hand lines while Tower 8 showered and cooled off tanks. Firefighters also fed water through the sprinkler system to push more water into the plant.

Some neighbors close to the plant were evacuated from their homes and employees from the city’s Central Maintenance Garage were sent home early as a precaution. Brlas said that Firefighters continually monitored the air with gas detectors and never found any problems. “I don’t believe there was really any risk to anyone other than those within the plant itself. We also had personnel from Waste Water checking sewers to make sure that no chemicals made it into the water and that all checked clear as well.”

One of the biggest concerns Fire Officials had after the bulk of the fire was knocked down was the remaining barrels near the skim tank. Brlas said that the decision was made to dump as much foam on the barrels and into the skim tank as possible to remove that risk. “We put out a call for foam from other fire departments and received about 300 gallons. We ended up using between 200 to 250 gallons at this point. The foam really proved to be a good tool in this situation.”

Brlas said that Lorain and Avon Fire Departments provided mutual aid on scene of the fire. Eaton Township, Grafton Village, Amherst, Lorain and Avon Lake Fire Departments all provided buckets of foam.

Lorain County Emergency Management was on scene providing logistics assistance and their Command Post.

Brlas said he was proud of the Firefighters and the job they did this afternoon. “It was a hairy situation and a very dangerous one, these guys did a great job in getting the fire knocked down as quickly as they did.”



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