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Fire forces evacuation of Western Star manufacturing plant


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AP / January 27, 2015

A fire at the Western Star Trucks plant in Portland, Oregon triggered the evacuation of hundreds of workers, but the blaze was quickly put out and there were no injuries.

Lt. Damon Simmons of the Portland Fire Bureau says the Western Star manufacturing plant fire on Swan Island at 6936 North Fathom Street started at about 8 a.m. Tuesday in a spray-painting booth at the manufacturing plant.

The fire started in a paint booth and spread into the roof. The initial area didn't have sprinklers, and firefighters said the flames were difficult to extinguish.

The fire involved flammable liquids, so several systems had to be shut down before the fire could be extinguished.

Investigators have yet to determine the cause of the fire or the damage estimate.

Western Star Trucks is a subsidiary of Daimler.

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Western Star trucks plant partially idled after blaze that caused $510,000 in damages

Oregon Live / January 28, 2015

Cleanup continued Wednesday at the Western Star truck factory on Swan Island, one day after a fire that halted some production and forced 700 workers to evacuate.

No one was injured, but the blaze caused an estimated $510,000 in damages before it was extinguished Tuesday morning, said Lt. Damon Simmons, a Portland Fire & Rescue spokesman.

Operations may resume as early as Thursday, said David Giroux, a spokesman for parent company Daimler Trucks North America. The German-owned truck maker, headquartered in Portland, is one of the city's largest manufacturing employers.

The fire started when sparks created by an employee grinding near the plant's paint booth ignited flammable liquids in the area. The fire bypassed the sprinkler system and spread to the ceiling.

Seven units and 30 firefighters responded to the blaze, and put out the flames within 35 minutes, Simmons said.

Most of the damage was structural. No trucks were affected, Giroux said.

He said idled employees can use sick leave or vacation days to continue to be paid as cleanup continues. Normal operations could resume Thursday at the earliest, he said.

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