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Firefighters respond to grease fire at Zanesville glass plant

Posted on by SST

A grease fire at the Zanesville OI plant in Ohio sent black smoke billowing into the air.

Occurring around 5:15 p.m. on Oct. 29, firefighters from Zanesville, South Zanesville and Falls Township Fire Departments responded to the incident, local NBC affiliate WHIZ reported. Crews prepared lines of water, but the effort was not necessary. According to Zanesville Fire Department Assistant Chief Bob Long, the blaze was handled quickly.

"I think they have experienced this before, so they knew what to do and they had it pretty well knocked down by the time we got here I guess," said Long of the initial responders.

Glass producer
The plant, operated by Owens-Illinois, is a global manufacturer of glass container products. According to its website, OI primarily creates glass bottles, including beer, wine, spirits, non-alcoholic and pharmaceutical containers. The Zanesville plant is one of 19 North American locations and one of about 80 locations worldwide. Although unclear exactly which processes occurred at the facility, final production requires melting, cooling, forming and conditioning steps.

The flames reportedly began on the ceiling where there was a build-up of grease from the production process, though it was not revealed what sparked the fire. Long explained that oil used to lubricate parts "gathers in the ceiling and occasionally catches on fire." Because no wood caught, the fire was easily contained. Long explained that grease fires at the plant occur on a yearly basis, as reported by Zanesville Times Recorder.

Protecting against grease fires
According to the National Fire Prevention Association, grease can build up as a result of air ventilation systems. As outlined in the Fire Code NFPA 96, grease-laden vapors can be spread via an exhaust system. Such systems need to be inspected regularly and cleansed of any excessive grease. Removal devices such as grease filters should be put in place to reduce build-up.

Although water was used to defeat the fire at the Zanesville plant, it is generally recommended not to use water for grease fires. Water can cause grease to spread, potentially spreading the blaze further. Instead, various fire extinguisher materials can tackle grease flames.

While the Fire Code NFPA 96 is directed toward commercial cooking operations, it could have implications for other facilities that regularly use lubricants. At the Zanesville plant, however, the cause of grease build-up on the ceiling was not revealed.

No injuries were reported.

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