UPDATED: AERT suffers fires at two facilities in one week

UPDATED: AERT suffers fires at two facilities in eight days

By Editorial Staff, Resource Recycling

A pair of Environmental Recycling Technologies (AERT) facilities were struck by major fires in just over a week, and one of the blazes killed a worker.

A flash fire at the company's Springdale, Arkansas plant on July 17 claimed one employee's life and led to burn-related injuries to two additional employees.

Fire crews worked for an hour and a half to control that blaze, which officials believe to have started in a mixer during production. "The dust associated with the type of process [that ] goes on here resulted in some type of a flash fire that encapsulated three of the employees," Assistant Fire Chief Kevin McDonald said.

An investigation into the cause of the fire is ongoing.

The second fire erupted early on July 25 at an AERT silo in Lowell, Arkansas.  After being extinguished by Lowell fire crews, the blaze reignited later that afternoon, calling crews back to the scene.  No fire-related injuries have been reported.  According to AERT’s Sarah Pore, AERT "will disassemble the silo, remove the material, and make appropriate repairs and safety inspections."

AERT processes and recycles polyethylene and wood scraps in the production of various composite building materials, marketed as a green alternative to traditional wood materials.

In regards to the first blaze, AERT’s President Tim Morrison said in a statement: "Our greatest sympathy is with the family and friends of the employee who lost his life, and with those who sustained injuries." AERT has not issued a statement on the investigation since last week, but confirmed with Resource Recycling that the investigation into the fatal fire is ongoing.

In February 2012, a dust explosion occurred at the Springdale plant. No employees were injured during the blast. 

This story was updated on July  26 to include details on the second fire.

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