WJHL.com - Abingdon Business Fire Leaves No Injuries, Little Damage

Abingdon Business Fire Leaves No Injuries, Little Damage

By Debra Mccown

ABINGDON, Va. – No injuries and minimal damage were reported Thursday after an industrial fire at a business near Exit 22 of Interstate 81.
Employees at MXI’s Maumee Express facility, which recycles and disposes of various flammable materials, said they were disposing of paint when they heard a sound like gunfire, and the material burst into flames.
“It sounded like a bunch of firecrackers and bullets going off,” said Derek Widener, a warehouse worker who said employees unsuccessfully tried to extinguish the fire.
“The ceiling started to catch fire and dripping flames, and that’s when we took off and called the fire department,” Widener said.
Firefighters from at least three departments arrived on the scene to extinguish the flames, and a hazardous materials team and officials from the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality arrived afterward to assess cleanup.
“The way it sounded, there was something in the [paint] containers that we didn’t know about,” said David Myers, another employee who was nearby when the fire started.
John Brothers, plant safety director, said the materials involved were latex and oil-base paint.
“It was nothing that you wouldn’t have inside your normal house,” Brothers said, categorizing the 1 p.m. blaze as a “dumpster fire.”
He said the company would investigate to determine the cause.
“There was a lot of smoke coming out,” said Frank Smelcer, who was working in another part of the building and was told to evacuate. He and other workers watched from the other side of Old Trail Road, where the plant is located.
Brothers said employees followed procedure in fighting the blaze with fire extinguishers, portable foam units and dry chemical extinguishers, then calling the fire department when the building’s sprinkler system activated.
DEQ Hazardous Waste Compliance Coordinator Willard Keene said it didn’t appear any environmental damage had been done by the liquid runoff from the site.

dmccown@bristolnews.com | (276) 791-0701

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