Zinc dust catches fire at Wheatland Tube | News | sharonherald.com

2022-10-26 12:04:33 By : Mr. James Pan

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The Wheatland Tube pipe and tube plant in Wheatland, site of a fire Saturday morning.

The Wheatland Tube pipe and tube plant in Wheatland, site of a fire Saturday morning.

WHEATLAND — There were no injuries or major damages following an early-morning fire Saturday at Wheatland Tube Co.

Wheatland fire Chief Bob Taylor said first responders were alerted at about 5 a.m. to a fire at the tube plant.

The fire started in an area where zinc dust collects when it’s being used to coat pipe. Employees were cleaning machinery designed to collect the zinc dust when the fire broke out, Taylor said.

“With zinc dust, any little bit of heat will get it started,” Taylor said of the fire.

Besides the Wheatland Volunteer Fire Department, fire departments from Farrell, Hermitage, Patagonia and Shenango Township responded.

Shenango Township’s ambulance service was on scene and another ambulance service was on standby, but Taylor said there were no injuries among either Wheatland Tube employees or firefighters.

Since the fire involved zinc dust, Taylor said firefighters had to use dry-chemical extinguishers instead of water to extinguish some of the hot spots in the zinc dust. Zinc dust reacts chemically with water to produce heat and flammable hydrogen.

Most of the fire was already extinguished by the time firefighters arrived, because Wheatland Tube already has safety measures in place, including dry-chemical extinguishers.

“They work with it all the time,” Taylor said of the employees.

Firefighters checked areas such as a conveyor belt and the roof trusses where the dust could collect for dust and looked for hot spots, which is what required the manpower of five departments.

Firefighters cleared the scene around 9 a.m.

Since zinc dust is “fairly heavy,” Taylor said the dust didn’t travel far from where the fire started and there was only minor damage at Wheatland Tube, such as wires or lights that may need replaced. Otherwise, business at the plant was uninterrupted.

Taylor said Wheatland Tube’s safety measures, such as equipment and employee training, was a “blessing” in preventing more damage or potential injuries.

“We usually only get a call like this once every three years, and when we got there, they already had 2 inches of dry-chemical extinguisher on the floor where the hot spots were,” Taylor said.

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