AL Plastics Fire Ruled Accidental

Friday, March 18, 2016 @ 04:03 PM gHale

An accidental fire at Reliable Formed Plasitcs in Birmingham, AL, originated on a table with a roll of fiberglass and melted to the floor, officials said.

The three-alarm fire Wednesday forced 60 Birmingham Fire and Rescue Service firefighters to battle the blaze that sent a plume of black smoke over parts of the city.

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All workers quickly evacuated the building and there were no injuries, said Chief Charles Gordon.

Fire officials this evening ruled the fire accidental, and said the fire originated on a table with a roll of fiberglass, and melted to the floor below the table. The blaze broke out at 2:22 p.m. at Reliable Formed Plastics LLC in the 900 block of Second Avenue North.

Business owner Rick Turman said his plastics thermal business has been at that site since 2000. He and six others were inside the building when someone yelled there was a fire. “By the time I got to the back, everyone was out,” Turman said.

Still, he tried to get to the flames. “There was too much smoke,” he said.

The fire, he said, started in the far back corner of the building. He said he didn’t know how it started. There were four propane tanks just inside one of the doors, he told firefighters. One of those tanks exploded just before 3 p.m.

Turman described watching his business burn as “gut-wrenching.” He had just received a large, expensive shipment of plastics that he has been waiting on for months, he said.

The fire was under control within 1 1/2 hours. Firefighters and fire investigators were still on the scene about 6 p.m.

Gordon said the fire originated in the woodwork shop on a plywood table supported by two metal sawhorses. Workers were using the room to make fiberglass molds, which use general purpose resin, gelcoat and acetone. The chemicals usually generate heat when drying with the fiberglass.

The fire, he said, appears to have started because the sawdust in the area and chemical mixture reached ignition temperature over a period of time. The workers tried to extinguish the blaze, but could not.

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