Fire leveled a 320,000-square-foot warehouse in Mount Vernon, Ind., causing millions of dollars in lost equipment and raw and finished plastic materials.
The facility, owned by Warehouse Systems Inc., served three companies: GE Plastics Inc., B&M Plastics and Linpac Plastics.
When reached by telephone Dec. 23, a WSI spokeswoman said officials there were not commenting on the fire.
The blaze began the afternoon of Dec. 17 and burned through late Dec. 20, according to Jo Lynn Ewing, a spokeswoman for the Indiana Department of Environmental Management.
She said the agency received reports of an odor of burning plastic from 23 counties shortly after the fire began, and IDEM encouraged residents of those counties to stay indoors, if possible.
Residents within a square mile of the plant were evacuated when the fire began, and firefighters from Kentucky and Illinois were called in to help fight the blaze, according to a report in the Mount Vernon Democrat.
B&M Plastics, which extrudes recycled polycarbonate and ABS, lost 1 million pounds of finished pellets and 3 million pounds of regrind, as well as a shredder/ grinder and two reconditioned extruders, said President Bill Gillenwater.
He valued the lost materials at $2.1 million and the destroyed machinery at about $800,000.
``We have also lost one customer, which we hope to get back,'' he said.
The 16-year-old company is moving lead times back, bringing materials in from other sources and will be running the plants 24 hours a day so it can fill orders from its remaining customers, which include Ford, GM, General Electric, Ohio Valley Plastics and Chase Plastics.
Gillenwater said the two extrusion lines were to be installed in one of B&M's two Mount Vernon plants in 1999.
B&M employs 85 full-time workers, as well as 15 part-time workers who operated the shredder/grinder.
GE Plastics was storing 20 million pounds of finished plastic pellets and 8 million pounds of additives in the facility.
Spokeswoman Kimberly Derk said it was a significant loss, but it represents only a small portion of GE's inventory.
``We've been storing plastics for 35 years, and this is the first time something like this has happened,'' she said, adding the fire ``won't have a major impact on how we do business.''
Linpac, which just set up manufacturing operations in a 6,000-square-foot section of the warehouse, was storing polystyrene, according to the Democrat. Linpac Plastics Ltd. of Knottingley, England, manufactures PS food trays and egg cartons and other products.
Mount Vernon Fire and Rescue Chief Kevin Brown on Dec. 29 said the cause of the blaze still is under investigation, and total damages are not yet available.