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Fire forces Carefree plant to be evacuated


July 20, 2011
A small fire at the Jasper Engines and Transmissions plant at Carefree forced the facility to be evacuated early Monday morning. No one, however, was injured.

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Emergency vehicles from the Leavenworth Volunteer Fire Department make their way toward the Jasper Engines and Transmissions plant at Carefree after a small fire broke out in the building early Monday morning. The fire forced the evacuation of the building. There were no injuries.
Firefighters were called to the scene at about 5:30 a.m., where they found smoke inside the building.

"A lot of smoke," said a Jasper Engines manager.

Crawford County Emergency Management Agency Director Kent Barrow said an exhaust system in the kolene system that helps clean the engine blocks had a heat buildup and caused a small fire. He said firefighters used a dry chemical to put that fire out, but the system overheated again, causing a second fire that again filled the building with smoke.

"The system heated up again and caught fire and was put out," Barrow said. "There was a moderate level of acid and oxidizer. Work had to be shut down for the day."

The Leavenworth Volunteer Fire Department made the initial response along with Crawford County Emergency Medical Services, EMA and Crawford County Sheriff's Department. Because of the warm and humid conditions, additional firefighters were requested from English, Marengo and Milltown. In addition, EMS units in both Orange and Harrison counties were placed on standby. Two oxygen units from the Ramsey Volunteer Fire Department also responded, and additional manpower from Georgetown was also called. It took several hours for firefighters to bring the situation under control.

The State Fire Marshal's Office was called to help determine the cause of the fire. In addition, a hazardous materials unit from Evansville was also requested to help in the investigation.

All personnel inside the building at the time of the fire were accounted for and employees coming into work were sent to Carefree to stand by until it was determined that work would be shut down for the day while the clean-up was completed.

In March 2008, more than 30 employees were sent to the hospital following an explosion when 2,400 gallons of sulfuric acid and 1,400 gallons of ferric chloride were accidentally mixed together in a tank in the northwest corner of the building. None of the injuries were life-threatening with most people treated for respiratory ailments.

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