Van Rob Plant Suffers 2nd Fire in a Month

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WAVERLY - A month to the day after a roof fire at Van Rob Waverly Inc., another fire broke out Thursday at the automobile supplier's plant.

The fire was small and plant personnel were able to contain it before the fire department arrived, Waverly Fire Chief Randy Armbruster said. A pair of machines underneath the fire were covered, protecting them from water damage, he said.

On April 23, the plant's 125 employees were evacuated about 3:30 p.m. when sparks from the daily manufacturing process carried into a ventilation shaft and spread to the plant's rubber roof.

Thursday's fire occurred about 11:30 a.m. in the same area underneath a temporary roof that has been installed. Armbruster thinks the latest fire also was caused by the typical manufacturing process, but this time it caught a piece of old insulation. The blaze was contained before it could spread to the roof.

"We've been working with them since the first fire, trying to take care of issues," Armbruster said.

So far, plant management has been cooperative and open to suggestions to decrease the risk of fire, he said.

According to Occupational Health and Safety Administration online records, inspectors most recently were at the facility in January as the result of a complaint.

In March, the plant was assessed $22,000 in penalties that since have been adjusted to $15,400 via an informal settlement.

The penalties involved seven serious violations, most of which centered around forklifts in areas such as inspection and regular operator evaluation. All of the citations, which were noted as being abated in April, involved equipment and processes affecting employee safety.

Crews from several departments, including Pee Pee, Seal and Pebble townships, responded to the Thursday fire. Armbruster said firefighters were able to knock down the fire within 30 minutes. Production was anticipated to resume later Thursday once water was cleaned out of the area, he said.

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