In December, firefighters in Blaine, Washington responded to a fire inside a large roaster at Golden Nut Company. The facility manufactures peanut butter. The fire department, located across the street from the Golden Nut plant, had received a report of an automatic alarm activation from the plant. Firefighters were in the process of donning protective gear when they heard a loud explosion and saw a large fireball above the plant roof. The fire was contained mostly within the roaster, where it had started, with the help of sprinklers and fire department hose streams.

Firefighters reported zero visibility in the roaster room due to smoke from the fire, as well as high heat conditions. They used a thermal imaging camera to locate the source of the fire, reporting the location in what they described as “two large machines”. Firefighters used fire hose streams to cool the building structure and plant machinery alternately. The plant’s sprinkler systems in the vicinity of the fire operated.  The sprinkler system was allowed to operate for approximately 1 hour while firefighters used hose streams to attack and eventually extinguish the fire.

Reports estimate the incident resulted in $600,000 worth of damages. There were approximately 15 workers on site at the time of the fire, including the operator of the roaster, all of which escaped to safety without injury.

Preliminary investigations by the local Fire Marshal indicate that although the piping in the roaster had been cleaned out within the week prior to the incident, build-up in the ventilation system most likely initiated and fueled the fire. The build-up can be likened to that of creosote in a chimney. At the time of the fire, no nuts were going through the roaster. It had been in idle mode and was warming at approximately 220 degrees. The oven uses a conveyor belt to move the nuts through the roasting cycle.

The last serious fire at the plant occurred back in November 2010, where fire was also contained to a peanut roaster.