Three firefighters were hospitalized recently after a dust explosion occurred while fighting a fire at Deceuninck North America, a company located in Monroe, OH that manufactures window sills, doors, decking, and railing. Their products are distributed in the United States, Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Ireland. One firefighter suffered second degree burns on his face, neck, and hands; the other two suffered from hearing problems, as well as headaches.

The fire began in the early afternoon on May 23rd inside a 5,000 gallon tank that contained dried wood composite material. The cause of the fire is still unknown.  While fighting this fire, fire fighters attempted to empty material from the tank through a 2 ½ inch pipe connection at the bottom of the tank.  The fire department believes that the process of emptying the tank raised combustible dust in the air, which found an ignition source and flashed.  This flash fire, referred to by the fire department as an explosion, is what injured the fire fighters.

The fire took about three hours to extinguish and six other fire departments responded with mutual aid. The federal Occupational Safety and Health Association (OHSA) is expected to investigate the incident. While there have not been any accidents reported at the Monroe plant on OSHA’s website, Deceuninck’s Little Rock, Arkansas facility had six violations reported in January 2007, three of which were serious.