Calif. Firefighters Suffocate Metal Dust Fire in Duct Work

March 6, 2013
By sealing off both end of duct work, Ventura County firefighters were able to extinguish an aluminum dust fire without using any water.

March 06--Ventura County firefighters put out a blaze Tuesday at a large industrial building in Simi Valley by sealing the duct work and suffocating the fire, officials said.

The fire was reported about 10:10 a.m. at RSA Engineered Products in an industrial complex in the 1700 block of Voyager Avenue. Aluminum dust was burning in the duct work of a building owned by Meggitt-USA Inc., officials said.

Employees noticed smoke coming from a vent in the ceiling and called 911, said Capt. Mike Lindbery, a spokesman for the Ventura County Fire Department. About 70 employees had to leave the building.

Firefighters could not apply water to the fire "because of the possibility of a violent reaction," Lindbery said, and a hazardous materials team responded.

Ultimately, both sides of a duct in the ventilation system were sealed, and the fire was out by 11:05 a.m. No one was injured. The cause of the fire was not clear.

Fire personnel searched the building with a thermal imaging camera and other equipment and found elevated readings for carbon monoxide and other possible hazardous gases, but they were false readings, Lindbery said. "These monitors require constant calibration, so it's not uncommon to get a false reading," Lindbery said.

Firefighters who went inside the building were later hosed down as part of a decontamination process to make sure no hazardous materials entered their respiratory systems, Lindbery said.

Copyright 2013 - Ventura County Star, Calif.

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