LIMA — The Guardian Energy ethanol plant is up and running just over a day after a fire on the exterior of the plant forced a temporary shutdown, and the plant manager is thankful the situation was resolved as well as it could have been.
Three area fire departments responded to the fire Sunday at the plant, located next to Interstate 75 at 2485 Houx Parkway, Lima. According to plant manager Jack Wolfcale, the Perry Township Fire Department was called to respond to the plant just after 12:15 p.m. Sunday after a fire was discovered in equipment on the exterior of the plant.
“It was a single piece of equipment [on the] exterior of the silo, the grain elevator that carries the corn to the top of the silo,” he said, noting that the fire never reached the interior of the structure.
According to the Perry Township Fire Department Facebook page, the department received mutual aid from the Lima and Shawnee Township fire departments to help extinguish the blaze. No plant employee or firefighter was injured during the incident.
“The biggest challenge was that everything was 150 feet in the air,” Wolfcale said.
Currently, the exact cause of the fire is under investigation, but Wolfcale is currently attributing the blaze to equipment failure. No estimate as to the cost of damages is currently available, he said. However, disruption to plant production has been kept to a minimum.
“We removed the plant from service just to complete a real good inspection on that equipment,” he said early Monday afternoon. “We’re very hopeful to be able to return the plant to service later this afternoon.”
Given the potential for how damaging this fire could have become, Wolfcale said he was thankful this incident did not take a more dangerous turn, potentially putting both plant workers and emergency response personnel in danger.
“The team at the plant did a great job identifying [the fire],” he said. “All the firefighters that were here did an outstanding job, and we’re very thankful to all of them.”