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HUDSON - Second-shifters at Hudson manufacturer Omni Components Corp. were barely two hours into their workday Monday when a wall of heavy smoke suddenly rolled in and chased everyone to the exits.
"It was heavy smoke, like a dust storm coming," said Jim Barker as he stood with co-workers on the front lawn watching firefighters gear up for battle.
"The alarm went off, the bell went off, and it was ‘let's go, let's get out of here.'"
Two Hudson engines, a ladder and tanker initially responded to the sprawling, one-story structure at 46 River Road when the alarm came in, followed by phone calls, at 5:15 p.m., Captain Dave Morin said.
But the size of the building and the fact it's an industrial plant prompted the first- arriving engine to call for a second alarm, he said.
Soon engines from Nashua, Pelham and Windham, along with ladders from Nashua and Tyngsborough, Mass. had joined Hudson's, bringing manpower and equipment needed to check every corner and the roof of the large building.
There were no reports of injuries to either workers or firefighters, Morin said. He wasn't sure how soon employees would be able to return to work.
Barker said he believes the fire started in a metal-finishing machine. Other employees used a fire extinguisher, he said, which knocked the flames down but apparently not out.
The machine is cooled by circulating oil and was likely the cause of the amount of heavy, acrid smoke that seemed to find its way throughout the building, he said.
"A lot went into the vents, and filled it up pretty fast. It looked like they thought (the fire) was out, but it was hard to see through the smoke," Barker said of co-workers.
Omni, which runs three shifts a day, five days a week, specializes in precision-engineered, machined products for the medical, aerospace, optical, communications, instrumentation and commercial electronics industries, according to its website.
Fire Chief Shawn Murray reported the fire contained about a half-hour into the operation, but all crews would remain on the scene for some time for what he called "extensive overhaul" and smoke-clearing operations.
Fire Prevention personnel were also called to the scene, along with a haz-mat crew from Nashua.
The mutual aid equipment began returning to their respective towns shortly after 7 p.m.
Story provided by: www.nashuatelegraph.com