WESTMINSTER — A piece of equipment at Rudolph Foods caught fire in the building Thursday morning, sending flames climbing through an exhaust vent on the roof. Plant officials evacuated the building.
Westminster Rural Fire Department personnel responded to the fire, which started at approximately 10:30 a.m. The Harrod Fire Department provided mutual aid at the scene.
“We evacuated the building once we saw the pork rind dryer was on fire, and we shut the equipment down,” said Westminster firefighter Terry Shaw, who also works at Rudolph Foods. “It started out down below and then it got to the roof. We were able to put it out down below, and then it took more effort to get it out on the roof.”
Rudolph Foods has produced pork rinds and smoked bacon rinds since 1955.
Employees reacted quickly when they saw the fire, using fire extinguishers to put out the pork rind dryer fire in the building, Shaw said. Some employees then climbed onto the roof, but they could not extinguish the fire which had spread to the vent. When firefighters arrived, they sprayed water into the vent and extinguished the last remnants of the fire.
Shaw said no one was in danger during the fire, and the building sustained no damage.
He said plant production continued once workers were allowed back in. He estimated the piece of equipment that caught fire would be operational in about three hours.
Pointing to plumes of white steam hovering above the roof, Shaw said below-zero temperatures and steam can create frost and ice and cause exhaust fans to overheat.
“When the weather is like this, the burners ice up, and we have a feeling that is what it was,” Shaw said. “It got too hot, and it caught on fire. There was very little damage to the burner, and we will probably have it running here in a couple of hours.”
Crews began packing up gear and prepared to leave the scene at 11:15 a.m.
The Lafayette and Perry fire departments were called for mutual aid, but they were canceled before they arrived.