Small fire at IP keeps firemen, delays delivery from loggers

Published 12:00 am Monday, February 23, 2009

A small fire Sunday morning at the International Paper Vicksburg Mill caused no damage and did not affect plant operations, but kept firefighters on the scene for hours and delayed some pulpwood deliveries.

Warren County Volunteer Fire Department Coordinator Kelly Worthy said firefighters responded to the call at about 7:30 and quickly contained the fire in a gear housing unit in a lime kiln. They remained at the plant until about 10:15 a.m. to monitor the situation.

“We had a hot gear inside the kiln running through some grease, and the grease was igniting at 246 degrees. Once we were able to get that gear to cool down below the ignition point, we handed it over to them,” Worthy said this morning.

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IP Vicksburg Human Relations Director Janice Elliot said the approximately 40 employees who were at the plant Sunday were not forced to evacuate the plant or halt production.

Eight trucks waited outside the gates of the mill to make deliveries while firefighters remained on the scene. A trucker at the front of the line said he’d been waiting since about 7 a.m., and all of the trucks left the mill without making deliveries at 9:30. Elliot said deliveries were temporarily halted as a safety precaution, but resumed Sunday afternoon.

The mill on Mississippi 3 was the site of a May 3, 2008, boiler explosion that killed one man and injured 17 others. In November, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration found a pair of violations and fined IP $77,000 as the mill resumed operations. About 400 people, including IP’s 306 regular employees, were at the mill when the explosions occurred. At least two lawsuits have been filed against the mill as a result.

The IP plant buys wood from local haulers and sends it through a production process to generate heavy-duty paper.


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