Cause of Chemtool fire released, deemed accidental

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ROCKTON (WREX) — The Rockton Fire Protection District has ruled the Chemtool fire accidental, as well as releasing details Friday evening about how the fire started.

According to Rockton Fire Chief Kirk Wilson, a project was underway at the facility to replace insulation on an elevated heat transfer piping network that was part of the site’s system for heating certain vessels in manufacturing lubricating greases. The network of piping carried heated mineral oil, according to Wilson.

“That morning, an employee of an outside contractor performing the insulation replacement project was working in the area of origin,” Wilson said in a news release. “They were utilizing a scissor lift to access the elevated heat transfer piping network.”

Wilson said shortly before 7 a.m. while an outside contractor was working in the area, a released occurred from the elevated piping. Mineral oil fell out and pooled in the area. Chemtool operators shut down the boiler and in the process of placing containment booms and de-pressuring the heat transfer piping network, the fire ignited.

“At the present time, the most credible scenario is that the scissor lift struck a valve or other piece of piping with sufficient mechanical force to cause the release of mineral oil,” Wilson said. “The investigation has not yet determined the source of ignition.”

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