Chemical Facility Blaze Forces Evac

Monday, May 18, 2015 @ 04:05 PM gHale

A fire that tore through a chemical manufacturing plant in Jenkins Township, PA, Wednesday ended up caused by an accidental static discharge, a state police fire marshal ruled.

As a result of the fire at Acton Technologies — a chemical manufacturer and processor that specializes in fluoropolymer films, tubing, wire, printed circuit boards, and micro-particles — Luzerne County Emergency Management monitored the air at the scene for potential hazardous releases.

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One man suffered injuries and underwent treatment at the scene. About 30 employees were outside the facility’s main building as multiple fire departments from the Greater Pittston area fought the blaze.

Some chemicals from the fire have entered a creek next to Acton Technologies, which reportedly turned the creek white. Firefighters have placed absorbent pads along the waterway to catch the chemicals before the enter the creek. Whether they were firefighting chemicals or chemicals from the plant was unsure.

State police fire marshal Trooper Ron Jarocha said a preliminary investigation has rule the fire accidental, but he said the cause was a static electricity discharge.

As a safety measure when the fire broke out, nearby Pittston Area High School on Yatesville Road evacuated.

Officials could detect a smell from the burning chemicals at the school’s location, said high school Principal John Haas.

The high school received notification by 9-1-1 authorities of the fire at 9:40 a.m., 10 minutes after the fire started and they recommended students and personnel evacuate the school.

“We called the bus company, notified the parents and got everyone home,” said Haas. “Buses came around 10 a.m. and we had the building evacuated in less than an hour. We’re still putting our notes together on what happened.”

As of Wednesday morning, Haas said he did not know if the students and faculty would return to school on Thursday.

The company, which has been operating since 1947, supplies products to organizations in aerospace, automotive, electronics, fiber optics, medicine, energy and environmental industries.

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