Wood Shavings Maker Burns to Ground

Thursday, March 19, 2015 @ 03:03 PM gHale

The cause of a fire that burned a wood shavings plant to the ground near Clarks, NE, remains under investigation, officials said.

American Wood Fibers (AWF) manufactures Cedar, Aspen, and Pine shavings for use as bedding for animals; small pets, dogs, horses, livestock, and poultry. AWF is a global producer of wood shavings and supplies shavings.

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Firefighters got the call to the facility at 6 p.m. Monday. “It was a matter of a half hour; it was totally engulfed,” said Clarks Fire Chief Jerry Wruble.

The last firefighters left the scene around 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, but returned about noon. Already burned to the ground, the American Wood Fibers facility was still on fire.

“We got a local excavator come in and we’re trying to work through hot spots and get as much water in as we can,” Wruble said. “It keeps wanting to jump into grassland.”

Firefighters held the flames to a quarter of a mile south of the plant. Crews continue to try to keep the facility’s contents – wood chips – from rekindling.

“That’s what made it worse with the structures is it was all full of the material which is flammable aided to still being here today, fighting,” said Wruble. “The wind was a major driver of the pretty much total loss of the facility with it gusting over 45 mph.”

There were no injuries in the incident and the state Fire Marshal’s office was on scene Tuesday and continues to investigate.

Fifteen 15 people work at the AWF plant.

Stephen Faehner, the company’s president and chief executive, released a statement:

“The American Wood Fibers (AWF) facility located in Clarks, NE sustained major damage from a fire on Monday, March 16, 2015. We are especially thankful that ALL AWF Employees were evacuated safely. Our management team is already on site and working with investigators to determine the cause of the fire.

“Our entire team would like to extend our gratitude to the local fire departments from the surrounding area for their quick response and admirable efforts. We also appreciate our local partners, vendors, and fellow manufacturers for their aid and support.

“We are especially appreciative to all our customers who are so supportive during these difficult times. Our Operations and Sales team have already shifted production to other AWF plants to minimize any interruptions on orders and deliveries.”

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