Blast, Fire Contained at NY Pepsi Facility

Wednesday, December 6, 2017 @ 11:12 AM gHale

An explosion of a propane tank on a forklift caused an early morning fire at the warehouse of Pepsi Beverages Co.’s Latham, NY, facility, fire officials said.

Dozens of pallets of products at the soda plant were destroyed by the subsequent fire but no one was hurt. The Nov. 15 fire also caused some damage to the roof.

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Colonie Deputy Fire Coordinator Michael Romano Jr., said the fire started at 4:30 a.m.

Colonie’s fire chief was the first person on the scene and immediately issued a second alarm once he saw the size of the blaze, Romano said.

“The way the chief explained it to me, it sounded like a jet engine running and that was the tank of the propane burning off inside,” Romano said.

Other firefighters who lived nearby also reported hearing the sound of explosions, Romano said.

Fire officials are unsure exactly what happened but it appears a propane tank-powered forklift malfunctioned.

“The forklift operator was able to get out without being injured,” Romano said.

The building, which is 275,000 square feet, presented a unique challenge to firefighters due to its size and the distance from the nearest hydrant.

Crews had to connect over 1,000 feet of hose to get to the warehouse along with an additional 300 feet once inside the warehouse to reach the fire.

“The guys did a great job of getting and knocking a large amount of the fire down in a short period of time,” Romano said.

It took about an hour to knock down the flames. Romano said there were about 20 employees inside at the time of the blast. Crews were on scene for hours cleaning up and trying to remove all of the smoke from the building.

“We are in the process of assessing the damage, but we are pleased to report that there were no injuries and all of our associates are safe,” a PepsiCo spokesperson said.

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