Commonwealth Journal

July 6, 2013

Gator Made Fourth of July fire is quickly extinguis

Work in ventilation area leads to blaze around roof

by Chris Harris
Commonwealth Journal

Somerset —

A potentially hazardous blaze was extinguished relatively quickly at the site of one of Pulaski County’s industrial leaders over the Independence Day holiday.
According to Pulaski County Public Safety Director Tiger Robinson, a fire broke out at the Gator Made facility off of Ky. 461 in eastern Pulaski on Thursday afternoon.
The 305,000-square-foot plant is a key location for the Gator Made company, recognized as an industry leader in providing utility and cargo trailers and their indivi-dual parts.
Robinson said that employees at the plant were engaged in repair and maintenance work at the time of the incident, and inadvertently ignited an exhaust system in a paint booth, where the trailers are spray painted. 
“When they started cutting loose a ventilation fan, it burnt residue on a pipe,” said Robinson, acknowledging that a spark must have caught the paint residue the wrong way. “It caught the ventilation on fire around the roof.”
Robinson said that the fire was contained very quickly — it was “not a real big fire,” he noted. The blaze was knocked down within about 15 minutes after emergency personnel responded to the scene.
Robinson also said that there was minimal damage to the facility, and that it was back up and operational by Friday.
Things could have been worse — Robinson acknowledged that there were some hazardous materials in the area, including barrels of paint, that could have contributed to the fire spreading. That did not occur, however, thanks to the quick work by local firefighters. 
“Anytime you’re in a factory, you’ve got the potential for a lot of different stuff catching on fire,” he said.
The Somerset Fire Department and Shopville-Stab Volunteer Fire Department responded to the scene.
Robinson warned to routinely check areas where residue could build up and present a hazard like that which existed at Gator Made on Thursday.
“Anything that hasn’t been used in a couple of years could have residue on it,” said Robinson. “You need to do regular maintenance.”