A fast-sweeping electrical fire at Open Molded Plastics, located near Tulsa, Okla., gutted two of the plant's four buildings in less than two hours and cut production capacity in half.
The open-mold processor, which primarily manufactures polyester lift buckets for utility vehicles, was between production shifts when the early-afternoon fire began Dec. 23. The blaze was sparked by a malfunctioning electrical transformer inside a production building and quickly spread through spray-on insulation in the plant's walls to a connecting building.
The two buildings, which are used for hand layup and finishing work, were destroyed. None of the company's 22 employees was injured.
With repairs expected to take six weeks, operations at the 10,000-square-foot facility were combined at two other existing buildings, said Chief Executive Officer Jim Hans of the Wagoner, Okla.-based company.
``We're extremely cramped for space right now, but we're very fortunate that we still have the ability to run production,'' Hans said.
The two fire-ravaged buildings will be rebuilt and new equipment added, Hans said. In the interim, production is expected to run at close to 50 percent instead of full capacity, which the company normally operates at year-round.
The molder, which has been in business for 11 years, uses glass-reinforced polyester to produce 2,500 utility lift buckets annually through hand lay-up and spray-up systems.
Hans estimated losses from the fire at $200,000, including building infrastructure, compressors, chemicals and a variety of small machining equipment.