Fire at AJ Riley contained to dust collector

Cary Ashby • Nov 26, 2019 at 8:22 AM

The cause of a fire inside a large dust collector at AJ Riley Inc. is unknown.

“It’s the first time in my career we’ve been out there,” said Capt. Dan Hunt, who has worked for the Norwalk Fire Department for 26 years.

Firefighters received a call at 12:17 p.m. Monday. Two engines, a ladder truck and tanker arrived at the asphalt plant, 4653 Ohio 601, four minutes later. The Milan Township Volunteer Fire Department provided mutual aid with a tanker.

“It came in as a structure fire,” Hunt said.

Upon arrival, there was smoke coming from the chimney, which the fire captain said was to be expected, but there also were “little puffs of smoke” emerging from the seams of the dust collector. The equipment, which filters air, is in the parking lot in the plant. Hunt said firefighters determined the blaze was contained to the dust collector.

“The fire wasn’t going to go anywhere else,” added Hunt, who noted the dust collector looks similar to “a box car of a train.”

The metal roof proved to be a challenge in order for firefighters to access the flames via the roof panels.

“We had to cool the roof just to do that,” Hunt said.

In order to access the 17 or 18 roof panels, firefighters had to unbolt each one. Hunt said the crew extended two lines to the roof and one to the bottom panels and used about 6,000 gallons of water to extinguish the fire and cool the roof.

Firefighters left the scene at 1:38 p.m. While the crew was at AJ Riley, members of the Huron River Joint District manned the station.

Hunt said AJ Riley will have to dry and repair the dust collector plus reattach the panels before it can be used again. 

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