Factory fire causes heavy smoke, minimal damage
Jacksonville fire crews battled fire and smoke most of Wednesday in a factory that produces paper products.
Jacksonville Fire Chief Paul White said the fire sparked about 2:30 p.m. at Western Pulp, 1577 North Bolton St. He said workers at the scene told him the company manufactures paper corners, which are put on furniture to prevent damage during transport. Crews remained on scene until about 9 p.m.
Officials believe the fire started from an oven-like device that dries out the paper corners before they are placed in cardboard boxes, stacked on pallets and stored in a large warehouse.
"Occasionally they do catch on fire, and (the workers) are aware of it," White said. "One must have got burned, and got stacked in a box, and put away and eventually it burst in flames, and it was probably behind a bunch of pallets."
White said workers tried to put out the fire on their own before calling the department, and once crews arrived, the smoke was so severe they had to use thermal imaging devices to locate the source of the flames.
White estimates the warehouse is 150 feet by 150 feet and full of stacked pallets of boxes, some as high as 20-feet tall.
Firefighters armed with thermal cameras used forklifts to locate and fight the fire inside the building.
Jacksonville Fire Marshal Dennis Tate said getting all the smoky debris was the main challenge, and the building sustained minimal damage.
"Building-wise, it was minor damage," he said. "Some areas around the walls got hot and discolored, but nothing burned through."
Tate said the smoky smell should not bother workers for too long.
"It's a metal building. ... All that smoke will clear out before too long," he said.
Crews from stations 1 and 2 responded initially to the scene, and off-duty firefighters were called in to give relief for those who were inside the longest.
Tate said as of about 9 p.m., all the damaged paper products were outside and crews from the company already had begun clean-up efforts.