Investigators were seeking the cause of a fire that charred most of a Kentucky injection molding plant owned by Mid-South Industries Inc. and left 700 workers without jobs.
The Mid-South Electronics plant in Annville, Ky., molded and assembled parts for printed telecommunications circuit boards, major appliances and office equipment. At 11 p.m. Jan. 15, the plant caught fire, and the 21 workers that formed the Saturday night skeleton crew quickly were evacuated, said Tommy Slone, Jackson County executive.
While no one was injured, the blaze built in intensity and continued for three days, Slone, based in McKee, Ky., said Jan. 20 by telephone. Resin stored at the facility caught fire and could not be extinguished by the fire crew, he said.
``The fire was trapped between the metal roof and the concrete slabs,'' Slone said. ``On Tuesday, the [firefighters] were still putting out the hot spots and had to be real careful.''
The fire was contained to the 100,000-square-foot plant, Slone said. The bulk of the plant was damaged beyond recognition and most of the equipment inside is not salvageable, he said.
The facility is one of two buildings in Annville owned by Mid-South Industries, a maker of metal and plastic parts based in Gadsden, Ala. Chief Executive Officer Harold Weaver was surveying the situation and was unavailable for comment before dead- line. Officials at Mid-South's Kentucky site could not be reached.
An adjacent building, an assembly operation for the circuit boards and appliance dispensing systems, was unharmed, Slone said. All together, the firm has about 930 employees in Annville.
Mid-South plans to restart production within six weeks, either at a new facility or at the second plant in the same industrial park, Slone said. Local news reports said the firm may restore production in a section of the ravaged building.
Mid-South also has purchased a nearly vacant building from Jackson County's industrial authority and is considering transferring some production there.
``It won't be full scale, but it will get them into production,'' Slone said. ``It's still a big setback even if they get back in operation. A lot of customers are expecting product that they aren't able to get, and it's a hard blow for all of us.''
Several area Mid-South suppliers and customers closed temporarily after the fire, he added. One customer, Electrolux Home Care Products, was back in production Jan. 19, according to local media reports. Mid-South supplies temperature-control and water and ice systems for Electrolux-made appliances. The Electrolux plant has 2,700 workers, according to the company.
Fire investigators have yet to determine the fire's cause. Firefighters from at least half a dozen Kentucky counties battled the blaze, said news reports. Nearby residents were moved in case of chemical explosions.
Mid-South has about 240,000 square feet of space in Kentucky. The Alabama firm records about 45 percent of its sales from molding work and makes plastic parts in Kentucky and Mexico, Weaver said last year. Mid-South has annual sales of about $230 million.