Compounder Thermofil Inc. of Brighton, Mich., is up and running again after a March 27 fire that leveled half its plant and forced the evacuation of about 25 nearby homes.
``The fire happened on a Friday and we started running extruders by Monday morning,'' Thermofil President Randy Rudsill said, adding the machines are operating around the clock to keep customers' orders filled.
The fire destroyed about 50 percent of the plant's square footage and about 30 percent of its capacity, Rudsill said in an April 3 telephone interview. The fire also claimed two high-output extruders—including one that just started production in December.
But quick action by the late-shift employees and firefighters saved the rest of the plant, Rudsill said.
The fire started just after 2 a.m., probably in a dye exhaust fan, according to Joanne Manns, office manager of the Green Oak Township Fire Department.
About 100 firefighters from 11 fire companies converged on the scene to battle the blaze.
Thick smoke from the fire ``was smelly,'' Manns said April 1, ``but not anything that was going to cause any health hazards.''
The smoke did force the closing of nearby highways, Manns said.
``Traffic was a disaster,'' she said. No injuries were reported, even though about 20 workers were at the plant when the fire broke out.
Manns said a full report on the fire, including definite cause and damage amounts, was not complete. Rudsill said the financial toll could be ``north of $20 million,'' but added his company kept the plant fully insured.
Most of the Thermofil's 135 employees and outside specialists worked through the weekend to clean the remaining facility and get it ready to start production March 30, Rudsill said.
Thermofil, a wholly owned subsidiary of Nippon Steel Chemical Ltd., produces nylon, polypropylene, ABS, flame-retardant high-impact polystyrene and other compounds at its plant, located about 20 miles west of Detroit. The firm does not release sales figures.