Employees escape injury at Bryant Industries fire

DANVILLE — Two employees at Bryant Industries escaped injury Friday morning when a fire quickly ignited in a metal pole-barn building where vehicles were being cut up for scrap, according to officials with the Kickapoo Fire Protection District.

Capt. Josey Jordan said the call came in to the Kickapoo volunteer fire department at 10 a.m. Friday. The building was fully engulfed in flames with a large plume of thick, black smoke billowing high into the air when the first firefighters arrived at Bryant Industries, 1406 Warrington Ave., just west of Danville. The building on fire was at least 100 yards behind the Bryant Industries' offices and facilities on Warrington Avenue and immediately west of the U-pull auto salvage yard.

Jordan said the building was the dismantling facility where torches are used to cut up vehicles for scrap. Jordan said the workers were cutting parts off a car with a metal torch when a freshly cut part fell, rolled across the floor and bumped a container of gasoline, causing it to spill and ignite flames that rapidly spread to other materials in the building. The facility housed 100-gallon and 500-gallon gas tanks, some miscellaneous tires and propane tanks for cutting, according to Jordan. He said there were no other buildings nearby, but firefighters managed to keep the blaze from spreading to some nearby semitrailer trucks.

About 15 Kickapoo firefighters were on the scene, Jordan said, and the Lynch, Bismarck, Oakwood, Tilton and Fithian-Muncie departments were also called in to provide more manpower and tanker support. Jordan said the county's hazardous-material team was also brought in to deal with any vehicle fluids that may have been leaking from the site.

Jordan said Bryant Industries officials were on the scene providing support and cooperation. Company officials declined to make any comments Friday about the incident.

Jordan said the building is a total loss, but did not yet have a dollar estimate on damages. It took the departments about one hour to get the blaze knocked down, and they remained there until about 2:30 p.m. taking care of hot spots.

It's the second fire in less than a year at one of Bryant Industries' facilities.

In June 2011, a fire heavily damaged the company's Tuscola recycling facility on U.S. 36. A spark from a worker's cutting torch caused that fire, according to officials with the company and the fire department, causing hundreds of thousands of dollars damage to the facility that was not insured.

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