Fallen line starts grass fire at explosives plant

John Hacker

A fallen power line ignited a small grass fire in a wooded area of the Dyno-Nobel explosives plant west of Carthage, but workers at the plant put out the blaze and no buildings were threatened.

Carthage Fire Chief John Cooper said he and a Carthage fire crew responded to a call at 11:03 a.m. Tuesday, but workers at the plant, located between County Route HH and Fairview Road on County Road 170, had extinguished the fire before firefighters arrived.

“It burned an area about the size of a big room,” Cooper said. “The wind might have knocked the line down, and they’ve got a lot of brush and limbs down from the ice storm like everybody else. The fire was nowhere near any buildings, it was in the middle of a wooded area.”

Cooper said the plant followed its procedures and moved the employees to the front gate as a precaution, but no one was evacuated.

He said the plant has a water truck and crews used it to put out the fire.

Cooper said any call to the Dyno-Nobel facility is especially hair-raising because of what they manufacture.

The plant manufactures packaged emulsion, cast boosters, and is one of the last plants in the world to manufacture dynamite.

“Any call out there is important, but they are real capable of taking care of themselves out there,” Cooper said. “They’ve made their own brush truck. We only responded to make sure the fire was out.”

In June 2006, firefighters and police officers closed the roads around the plant after they were called to a report of smoke in one of the buildings. The smoke turned out to be malfunctioning auger.

An explosion at the plant on May 24, 2000 resulted in the destruction of a building and the release of ammonia, nitric acid, nitric oxide and other material into the soil and air.

A major explosion on July 14, 1966, at the plant then known as the Hercules Powder Company, damaged buildings and blew out windows as far away as the Carthage square and killed one worker.

Carthage Press