LaFAYETTE, Ga. — Cleanup continued Monday at a carpet pad production plant here after a four-alarm fire destroyed millions of pounds of inventory.
“It’s going to take a lot of work to get that building back to what it was,” LaFayette Public Safety Director Tommy Freeman said.
It took a lot to extinguish fire at the 65,000-square-foot Quality Carpet Cushion plant, too.
About 80 firefighters from 10 departments were on the scene that was manned for 20 hours, he said. The fire, believed to have sparked accidentally inside one of the plant’s machines, was reported about 3 p.m. Sunday. Firefighters left around noon Monday.
“Three o’clock yesterday seems like 100 years ago,” an exhausted firefighter from the Walker State Prison said as he hoisted hoses onto a truck.
Firefighters and workers who were inside the plant escaped injury.
Mr. Freeman said it took 2 million gallons of water to extinguish the stubborn blaze, which billowed such thick smoke that residents in a nearby trailer park were evacuated for several hours Sunday.
Bales of foam carpet pad and cushions created unique obstacles for firefighters, who said the material was stacked about 20 feet high inside the production facility.
“It’s like hay,” one firefighter said about the foam rolls. “You have to break it open to get to the fire inside (the bales).”
The fire destroyed more than 2 million pounds of carpet padding, Mr. Freeman said. A wall and roof inside the plant collapsed. No dollar figure had been placed on the damage.
“Inventory alone I would think would be more than a million dollars, but I would hate to even guess,” Mr. Freeman said.
Despite repeated attempts, company officials were not available to comment Monday.
The plant grinds more than four million pounds of polyurethane foam each month, according to its corporate Web site, www.qualitycarpetcushion.com.
According to the Walker County Chamber of Commerce, there are 60 to 70 employees at the LaFayette plant near the intersection of Georgia Highway 136 and U.S. Highway 27. The facility opened in 1999 with a goal of expanding its work force to 110 employees, according to news archives.
There have been several small fires in the history of the facility, but there haven’t been any fire code violations, according to local and state fire officials.
The company has had one citation from the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration for a machine safety issue in 2002. Records show the company paid a $400 fine.
Fire departments from East Ridge, Hamilton County, Fort Oglethorpe, Rossville, LaFayette, Summerville, Walker County, Catoosa County, Walker State Prison and Forest Hays State Prison and responded Sunday to the blaze at Quality Carpet Cushion.
Source: LaFayette Public Safety Department