Asphalt Plant Blaze Forces Evac

Thursday, September 28, 2017 @ 04:09 PM gHale


An Air National Guard airport crash truck moves in to put out a fire in a storage tank in Glenville, NY.

A fuel tank exploded at Mohawk Asphalt Emulsions in Glenville, NY, early Thursday morning, the same asphalt plant where two men died in a blast just under a year ago.

There were no injuries in this incident. The loud boom rocked the region, prompting emergency crews, including the Air National Guard’s airport crash truck, to respond to the ensuing fire.

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“We got the fire knocked down pretty quick and started cool-down operations,” said Garth Riccio, chief of the Thomas Corners Fire Department. “Nobody was injured, everybody evacuated the site immediately.

“We met with the employees,” Riccio added. “The employees filled us in on what was happening and that everything was safe at the time. All utilities were secured right in the beginning, so we didn’t have any problems with that.”

The thick black smoke was reminiscent of an incident at the same plant last October in which two men died in an explosion.

“It was a different style fire last time,” Riccio said. “This time was more or less just material and a truck that wasn’t involved or anything like that.”

While people working nearby described the incident as an explosion, Riccio did not.

“I wouldn’t exactly call it an explosion,” he said. “It was more or less a fire of tar products burning in a tank.”

Kim Wilson, a vice president at The Gorman Group, of which Mohawk Asphalt Emulsions is a subsidiary, said there were no injuries. She said she could not comment further on the incident.

Riccio said there is a concern about two fire events at the same location in less than one year.

“But there are two separate incidents,” he said. “Until we find out how the actual fire started, we can’t make any rulings at this time.”

The state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is also concerned.

“We will follow up, and we’ll follow up with the fire department,” said Matt Franklin, the DEC’s director of emergency management. “Our own internal police department is going to check to see if there are any violations we need to address.”

Firefighters said there were about five people working in the building when when the incident occurred.

Mohawk Asphalt Emulsions, at 6 Freemans Bridge Road, was the site of a deadly explosion Oct. 17, for which the company ended up fined $17,745 by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

That blast happened when workers tried to use a propane blowtorch to heat a plugged line, as a mix of kerosene and asphalt was being loaded into a tanker truck.

DEC officials said OSHA has been contacted about the latest incident.



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