Early morning blaze at Milliken & Company activates 7-alarm response

ST. GEORGE –It was all hands on deck as firefighters responded to a structure fire at the Milliken & Company plant in St. George Friday morning. The effort on the part of plant employees helped to contain the fire and minimize damage as firefighters were en route to the early morning blaze.

7 alarm structure fire reported early Friday morning at Milliken & Company, 961 E. Commerce Drive, St. George, Utah, Oct. 14, 2016 | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News
Seven-alarm structure fire reported early Friday morning at Milliken & Company, 961 E. Commerce Drive, St. George, Utah, Oct. 14, 2016 | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

At approximately 6:30 a.m., emergency personnel were dispatched to Milliken & Company on a reported structure fire in one of the large industrial ovens, St. George Fire Chief Robert Stoker said.

Numerous engines from seven fire stations responded to the facility. Smoke billowed from the exit doors, and employees gathered outside, away from the building.

As firefighters entered the facility, they found smoke and flames coming from one of the large industrial ovens used in processing fire retardant material and heavy smoke throughout the 109,000-square-foot facility, Stoker said. The blaze was actively burning in the duct work and oven.

Firefighters were able to contain the fire quickly, Stoker said.

Positive pressure fans were also set up throughout the facility to clear the heavy smoke and fumes.

Most employees were evacuated at the start of the fire, Stoker said, while a small group remained inside to help contain the blaze using fire extinguishers as responders were making their way to the facility.  Through their efforts, the fire did not spread to other areas of the plant.

St. George Fire Department responded to a fire alarm Friday morning at the manufacturing site of Milliken & Company, 961 E. Commerce Drive, St. George, Utah, Oct. 14, 2016 | Photo by and courtesy of Dylan Westover, St. George News
St. George Fire Department responded to a fire alarm Friday morning at the manufacturing site of Milliken & Company, 961 E. Commerce Drive, St. George, Utah, Oct. 14, 2016 | Photo by and courtesy of Dylan Westover, St. George News

“The company has an excellent safety program,” Stoker said, “and provide ongoing safety training that helped them to safely evacuate the building and avoid serious injury.”

Once the fire was completely extinguished and the building was checked for any residual fire or burning embers, investigators were able to assess the damage in the area of the plant where the fire originated.

“There is substantial damage to the equipment and surrounding area,” Stoker said. “Looks like their operation will be shut down for at least today while they do repairs on the duct work.”

Upon further inspection, it appeared that the ovens themselves were still operational, Stoker said. However, the duct work surrounding the equipment sustained extensive damage and needed to be replaced.

Three employees who remained in the building to fight the blaze after others evacuated suffered from smoke inhalation, the chief said, two of whom were treated by EMTs while the third was transported to Dixie Regional Medical Center.

“The employees here at Milliken did an excellent job as far as containing the fire and then exiting the building rapidly,” Stoker said.

However, he also cautioned any employee who remains in a building in such circumstances to make sure they have an exit door between themselves and the fire in case they need to evacuate quickly.

Courtney Edwards, director of corporate communications and experience for Milliken & Company also commented on the incident.

The safety of our associates is of utmost importance at all Milliken locations. We are grateful that we were able to quickly evacuate the plant with no injuries. We appreciate the assistance and quick response of the local fire department.

The St. George plant is a division of Milliken & Company, one of the largest privately held textile and chemical companies in the world, according to the St. George Chamber of Commerce information page. The company manufactures textile fabrics.

No other injuries were reported.

The preliminary findings showed that particles and dust that naturally accumulate in the duct work during processing ignited and caused the fire, Stoker said.

St. George Fire Department, St. George Police Department, Gold Cross Ambulance and Questar Gas all responded to the incident.

This report is based on preliminary information provided by law enforcement or first responders and may not contain the full scope of findings. 

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Email: cblowers@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.

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