PALM BEACH POST

I-95 ramp closed during fire


By Jill Taylor, Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Friday, February 28, 2003

Heavy smoke from a fire at Universal Chemical Technologies forced closure of the Interstate 95 exit ramp at State Road 76 for a couple of hours late Wednesday, but the fire was brought under control without causing much damage and no one was hurt.

The company is in an industrial park on Ellipse Way off Jack James Drive near the I-95 interchange.

Martin County District Fire Chief Jeff Alter said the county's hazardous materials team was called because it wasn't immediately clear what was burning or whether the fire was the result of a chemical reaction.

As it turned out, the blaze was not chemical and the smoke, nontoxic.

Company President Thomas Dyer said it appeared the fire started because of an electrical short, but a sprinkler system activated and fire damage was confined to one room.

"The sprinklers really did help. They bought us some time," Alter said.

Officials checked to ensure that no chemical contamination was washed into the water table.

The company uses a special process to finish metals without using toxic materials that can harm the environment, Dyer said.

The small plant has 21 employees, and Dyer said he hopes it will be back in operation soon.

jill_taylor@pbpost.com