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Press Releases: Fire at Exide Technologies in Laureldale takes 18 hours to extinguish

Date

5/24/2009

Title

Fire at Exide Technologies in Laureldale takes 18 hours to extinguish

Body

By Jason Brudereck
Reading Eagle

A fire finally was extinguished at the Exide Technologies manufacturing plant in Laureldale about 2:30 p.m. Saturday, 18 hours after the blaze started, fire officials said.

Between 200 and 250 firefighters from about two dozen fire companies across Berks County helped fight the fire, which began about 8:30 p.m. Friday, Laureldale Fire Chief David Feltenberger said.

Five firefighters suffered minor injuries, but further details about them were not available, he said.

The fire began in a 100-foot-by-25-foot-by-15-foot bin filled with ground-up wooden pallets inside a concrete building with only one garage-door-type entrance, Feltenberger said.

"That made it tough to get to," he said.

The fire burned throughout the pile but was contained to the bin, he said.

"There is no hazardous material involved at all," said Laureldale Mayor Fred Feltenberger, the fire chief's uncle.

Chief Feltenberger said he's unsure how the fire started but that plant employees spotted it and, thinking the fire was small, tried to put it out before determining the fire was spreading throughout the wood chips.

A damage estimate was unavailable.
During the fire, more than three dozen firefighting vehicles were parked throughout the sprawling Exide grounds along Spring Valley Road and Montrose Avenue.

The fire was near the smelting center at the battery manufacturer.

On Saturday morning, firefighters were taking care to get cooled off and remain hydrated as temperatures began to climb.

On Friday night, thick smoke poured from the roof of the large building, near the middle of the Exide property.

Fire trucks had ladders extended to the building's roof. Several firefighters climbed the ladders to the top of the building, toting hoses with them.

There was not much smoke in the area Saturday, though some residents reported that their eyes stung.

Fire officials said the burning sensation was irritation from the smoke from the wood chips on fire at the plant.

The fire was the latest in a series of problems for the plant.

In February, federal officials announced that Exide had been fined $102,000 for 19 serious violations there. Exide also was fined $77,000 by the state in 2007 for ongoing odor problems.

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Created at 8/24/2010 10:01 AM by CCAPAdmin
Last modified at 8/24/2010 10:01 AM by CCAPAdmin