Fire at Solo Cup plant in Urbana caused by malfunctioning machine

Fire at Solo Cup plant in Urbana caused by malfunctioning machine

UPDATED 2:08 p.m.

URBANA - A malfunctioning machine at the Solo Cup plant in east Urbana sparked a fire Thursday morning that caused moderate damage.

Urbana Fire Chief Mike Dilley said a combination of sprinkler heads inside the plant at 1505 E. Main St. and firefirefighters' hose lines kept the fire from being any worse than it was.

An automated alarm sounded at 11:08 a.m.

"We got inside and encountered heavy black smoke in the back end toward the south side," he said.

The fire was on production line 6, where plastic cups were being stamped out.

"The combination of the sprinklers and our lines knocked the fire down pretty quickly," he said.

All the workers in the plant were safely evacuated.

Angie Gorman, director of communications for the Lake Forest-based Solo Cup, a part of Dart Container, said there were about 150 people working.

Dilley said he called a second alarm, which brought additional firefighters from Champaign. A total of about 25 firefighters helped out, both inside the building and by venting smoke through the roof. No one was hurt.

"On a day like this you have to rotate crews in and out as much as possible because it just doesn't take long to get overcome," Dilley said of the heat.

Employees of Hendrick House dormitory in Urbana supplied food and water for the firefighters, the second time this week they've done so. They also came to a house fire on West Oregon Street Sunday afternoon.

Dilley said when he left the site at 1:30 p.m., some employees were helping with cleanup.

Gorman said production was expected to resume by 7 a.m. Friday. Company officials were busy trying to figure out why the system failed.

"The good news is our people know well how to deal with these things. Everyone evacuated safely. There was no major damage, no structural damage," she said.

On July 19,  a spark from a welder's torch started a fire on a loading dock about 8:30 a.m. The fire, which was quickly extinguished, prompted the evacuation of the building. Workers were out of the building about an hour while smoke was sucked from the plant. Damage was estimated at $25,000.

"This was a much worse fire," said Dilley. "In a few more minutes it would have been really devastating. There is damaged machinery and an extensive amount of smoke damage in that general area."

Gorman said it was too early to put a dollar estimate on the damage from Thursday's fire.

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concernedcitzen1 wrote on August 02, 2012 at 12:08 pm

that place is a death trap. It's just a matter of time before someone get seriously hurt.

jmeans wrote on August 03, 2012 at 11:08 am

The words "death trap" are a little strong here.  A walk through of the plant area would reveal much less than a death trap.

concernedcitzen1 wrote on August 03, 2012 at 2:08 pm

your right "death trap" is probably pretty strong. I'm sure their accident record would speak for itself. Its not like people lose fingers or have their hands crushed in machines all the time.

ducksjo25 wrote on August 03, 2012 at 5:08 am

working with dated equipment can be dangerous no matter how many safety precautions you take.  Hopefully they put in the safety requirements and system upgrades so that this sort of thing does not happen again.  

localreader921 wrote on August 05, 2012 at 10:08 pm

Nooooooo!!! Red Solo Cup - you're more than just a cup - you're my, you're my - friend.  Yeah, lifelong.