Fire in dust collector causes $100,000 damage

An early morning fire Wednesday in the dust collector system at High Steel Structures Inc., 3501 W. Fourth St., resulted in an estimated $100,000 damage, according to city fire officials.

No one was injured and the entire plant was safely evacuated when the fire broke out in the company’s paint bay about 5 a.m., according to Dave Nicholas, the company’s corporate marketing and communications manager.

“Safety is a core value,” Nicholas said. “We are committed to providing all workers with a safe environment.”

Smoke was pouring from the middle of the large one-story building when firefighters arrived on the scene. A second alarm immediately was ordered, bringing additional firefighters and equipment from Old Lycoming Township, Woodward Township and Montoursville.

Fire officials said the fire, which burned out of control for about an hour, was confined to the collection system. Exhaust fans were used to clear smoke from the structure.

The fire originated in a unit that fire officials called a hopper or a descaler, a machine used to remove rust from a steel beam. At least a dozen filters in the collection system will have to be replaced, officials said.

“Assuming all parts are available, we expect to be up and running by Friday,” Nicholas said, referring to the paint bay, “Without the dust collector, the paint bay does not operate.”

The dust collector removes particles from the atmosphere.

Investigators believe the fire likely was caused by sparks inside the dust collector’s system.

The first shift reported to work, but just six of the 10 people in the paint bay remained at work. Those essentially were performing cleanup work, Nicholas said.

Staff reporter Philip A. Holmes contributed to this story.