Blaze at LaFayette plant sends 10 employees to hospital; two people critically injured

Blaze at LaFayette plant sends 10 employees to hospital; two people critically injured

February 26th, 2016 by Katie Ward in Local Regional News

The Buy A Truck Plant in LaFayette caught fire on the back side. Everyone was told to stay behind the fence except for emergency workers. Walker County firefighters work to put out the fire on the backside of the building, while Puckett EMS loads people injured.

Photo by Katie Ward /Times Free Press.

An excavator makes its way toward the Buy A Truck Plant in LaFayette. The excavator was used to knock out the back wall of the plant, so that firefighters could put the fire out.

An excavator makes its way toward the Buy...

Photo by Katie Ward /Times Free Press.

LaFayette City Manager David Hamilton prepares for interviews with the Chattanooga Times Free Press and News Channels 3, 9, and 12 in front of the Buy A Truck Plant in LaFayette that caught on fire at 10 a.m. Friday, Feb. 26.

LaFayette City Manager David Hamilton prepares for interviews...

Photo by Katie Ward /Times Free Press.

Two people were critically injured today after a fire broke out at the Buy A Truck Plant in LaFayette.

"The fire started at 10 a.m.," said LaFayette Police Chief Bengie Clift. "LaFayette firefighters and police officers, Walker County firefighters, Walker County State Prison, the city of Summerville, Catoosa County firefighters, Puckett EMS, the LaFayette Water Department and the LaFayette Electric Department all responded to the scene. They are working on runoff right now. The fire is not out, but it's contained right now. We mainly keep the road clear and let the fire departments work."

According to LaFayette Assistant Police Chief James Stacey Meeks, an excavator was brought in to take down part of a wall in the back to make sure hot spots of the fire are out. 

"We do have the fire contained," said LaFayette City Manager David Hamilton. "There's a significant fire on the southeast side of the building. And likely other smoldering fires inside. Ten employees were taken to the hospital and two were critical."

The Buy A Truck Plant makes foam mats and distributes hardwood or hardwood composite, Hamilton said.

"I will say we will be here at least until dark, Hamilton said. "It's possible it may go all night into tomorrow. They [the excavator operators] will pull the metal off the frame to put out the fire."

According to Hamilton, when firefighters are dealing with a stack of plastic, the water does not hit the flame. So, the firefighters must spread the plastic out to get to the flames. 

"Everyone is out of the building," Hamilton said. "Any smoke is an irritant to your lungs regardless whether it has chemicals in it or not. If the air quality is compromised it's because of the smoke. And we don't know if there were hazardous chemicals in the smoke or not. EPD is already here. EPD will make the decision whether or not to escalate it to EPA. I just want to make sure our emergency personnel are safe. We want to protect the local community and the environment."

Email Katie Ward at kward@timesfreepress.com.


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