Factory Fire: No Alarm, Sprinklers

Friday, July 10, 2015 @ 04:07 PM gHale

A huge factory fire fueled by the product North Shore Strapping Company produced — bubble wrap and shipping supplies — lit up the sky in Brooklyn Heights, OH, near I-480 and I-77 Monday morning with flames and smoke that could be seen for miles.

The factory did not have sprinklers or an alarm system which didn’t help the cause at all. No one suffered an injury in the blaze.

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An off-duty police officer first reported the fire around 3:30 a.m., said Jim Wheeler, Independence Fire Department’s Assistant Chief. By the time crews arrived, the flames were eating through the roof.

The plastic components inside were serving as fuel.

“Basically they have bubble wrap and shipping supplies,” said Assistant Chief Wheeler. “So it’s a petroleum-based product. Plastics have a lot of petroleum-based chemicals in them so they burn hot, and they burn very fast.”

When firefighters got to the scene, it was too dangerous for crews to go in, as the fire burned well into the afternoon. Hazmat crews remained on scene as a precaution.

Some of the company’s 50 or so employees learned what happened when they arrived for work. Their neighbors ended up affected by the ash and smoke, and the only road heading in and out remained shut down.

Investigators say no one was inside when the fire broke out and the last employee left the building late Sunday night. The cause remains under investigation.

It is also not immediately clear whether the factory violated code. Investigators say it is possible the building was grandfathered in by a standard where sprinklers and alarms were not a requirement.

Authorities say the building is a total loss.