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Fibertech Main Building Destroyed By Fire And Explosion

Last updated on Monday, October 31, 2011

(MITCHELL) - Mitchell firefighters battled a blaze at American Fibertech Corporation on Ind. 60 west, early Sunday morning.

Authorities say the fire started around 12:30 a.m. and firefighters were on the scene within 7 minutes. Firefighters from Marion VFD and Huron responded. Oolitic and Shawswick were called for water support along with Mitchell VFD for manpower.

Marion VFD Chief Kyle Mundy says the fire started in the main manufacturing area of the building. Explosions shook the building around 1:10 a.m. blowing out walls and sending sheets of metal, weighting more than 100 pounds, flying 250 feet from the building.

"The building was evacuated minutes before the explosion, when firefighters noticed the fire shooting out the roof, we called firefighters out, they just got out when the compressed - gas cylinders used for cutting torches and welding exploded.," says Mundy.

No one was injured in the fire or blast. A firewall between the buildings helped prevent the fire from spreading to the other two buildings.

Fibertech Plant Manager Jack Faubion says no workers were at the plant, but a security guard was on duty and the fire alarm sounded and fire department was notified.

Indiana State Fire Marshal Matt Wells was on the scene Sunday morning, but was unable to determine the cause because the area was simply too hot to enter the plant.

Fibertech employees 86 workers, Faubion says.

"Not sure what is going to happen," he says. "We have several orders we need to fill and I imagine it will only be a short time before we are back in production, that is something we will have to wait on the owners to decide.

American Fibertech Corporation makes wood containers and prepares wood to make pallets.

An Orleans man was arrested after he refused to stay away from the building and then when he did leave his vehicle sprayed Lawrence County Police cars with gravel.

33-year-old Rickie Merry was arrested on charges of criminal recklessness with a vehicle and refusing to leave the scene.

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