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Small fire evacuates American Standard

Fire trucks from four different departments block South Ellsworth Avenue in front of the American Standard plant as evacuated employees stand together across the street during a fire Monday. There was substantial water damage to the floors below the fire, which was on the third floor. (Photo by Mary Ann Greier)

SALEM — No injuries were reported after a small fire started on the third floor of the American Standard plant Monday morning, causing employees to evacuate and resulting in extensive water damage to the floors below.

Salem Fire Chief Scott Mason said maintenance workers were welding under a large machine on the third level when the oil-soaked wood in the floor caught fire. The workers were trying to contain the fire, but it burnt through the floor into the second floor ceiling.

The fire department received a call at 9:26 a.m. for smoke coming from the third floor at the south stairway. Smoke was showing so the entire department was called in, along with mutual aid from Perry Township, Green Township and Damascus fire departments.

Employees were already evacuating when the fire department arrived. Firefighters initially entered at the main entrance on South Ellsworth Avenue, then up the stairwell through a side door on the Mullins Street south side of the structure.

Mason said the biggest obstacle was getting equipment up to the third floor. Water was used to extinguish the fire, then the ladder truck was used to get a hose through the window to spray foam into the floor to cool and suffocate the fire. The fire was contained to the point of origin, but there was extensive water damage on the second and first floors, including the industrial area and offices on the first floor.

Firefighters remained on the scene until 11:38 a.m. and the plant opened back up, but some employees did remain outside. Mason said the maintenance crew went back inside to determine what areas could and could not operate.

Damages were estimated at $10,000 for the property and $100,000 for the contents.

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