Eleven semitrucks were destroyed during an early morning fire Sept. 3 at Poly-America Inc. in Grand Prairie, Texas.
Firefighters were called to the scene at approximately 4:22 a.m., and 21 city firefighters had the blaze extinguished in about an hour, said Grand Prairie Assistant Chief Bill Murphy.
The scene was then turned over to the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives for an investigation into the cause.
"One semi caught fire and they are parked so close together and it just went from one to the other to the next, and we stopped it at the 11th one," Murphy said. "They have a huge lot full of them. They didn't have the trailers; it was just the truck itself."
With the vehicles parked so close to one another, it was easier for the fire to spread. To blunt the flames, the department attacked from both sides of the fire, halting the progress toward other untouched vehicles while also extinguishing the flames from the point of origin, he said. "The only challenge that we had was that they were parked so close together. We had to get ahead of it and put a stop on it to keep it from migrating any further."
Murphy said there was no damage estimate several hours after the blaze.
Poly-America calls itself the world's largest producer of polyethylene construction film and makes trash bags under the Husky name.
Along with its Grand Prairie location, Poly-America also operates Carolina Poly in Chester, S.C., Poly-West in Henderson, Nev., and Up North Plastics Inc. in Cottage Grove, Minn. The company's Pol-Tex reprocessing and scrap service center is in Mont Belvieu, Texas.
It was a little more than a year ago, Aug. 19, 2020, that storage pallets containing plastic inventory caught fire at the same Grand Prairie location.
An exact cause has not been determined in that fire, Murphy said. "We've got some good ideas, but it's going to be listed as suspicious. It's hard to prove anything. We know where it started. But as to what started it or if somebody started it, we can't prove it."
He does not believe the two fires are related. He described a crowded parking lot full of tractors waiting to pick up loads at Poly-America when the fire broke out. Some drivers were sleeping in their vehicles and keeping the engines running while waiting for their pickups. Investigators will try to determine if the latest fire started in one of those running vehicles.
"No product was involved. There wasn't any plastic. It was just the tractors themselves," Murphy said.
Firefighters arriving at the scene did have to wake up some drivers resting in their trucks to evacuate them from the scene. There were no drivers sleeping in the vehicles that were destroyed and there were no injuries.
Less than a week after the Grand Prairie blaze last summer, another fire broke out Aug. 24 at Carolina Poly among storage pallets and later spread to plastics, oil, trucks and trailers.
Poly-America ranked No. 29 in the most recent Plastics News survey of North American film and sheet manufacturers with $260 million in estimated sales.