Fire at former Eagle Ottawa plant

Steve Bruneau was outside Wednesday afternoon, taking a break from his job at Grand Haven's Wastewater Treatment Plant, when he saw thick black smoke rising from behind the former Eagle Ottawa Leather Co.
Becky Vargo
Mar 22, 2012

“When you see black smoke – as a firefighter you know that you’ve got a good fire going,” said Bruneau, who is also a lieutenant on the Spring Lake Township Fire Department.

Bruneau said a construction crew was cutting steel as part of the demolition for the old factory building when the fire started.

The wastewater treatment plant is directly south of the factory.

Firefighters from the Grand Haven Department of Public Safety were called at about 2:25 p.m. when the fire started and sent a large plume of black smoke into the sky.

“That was something,” said GHDPS Lt. Joe Boyle. “I could see it all the way from the back of the department.”

Boyle said firefighters were able to quickly extinguish the fire, which was contained to the exterior of the southernmost building on the property.

“An initial investigation revealed that, during demolition process, an ember fell from the work area where an acetylene torch was being used and set roofing insulation on fire," Boyle said.

To see more photos from the scene, click here.

There was no explosion, no damage to any equipment and no injuries, he said.

Grand Haven Township firefighters and North Ottawa Community Hospital paramedics also responded to the scene.

Eagle Ottawa closed the plant in October 2006, ending the company’s 96-year history of hide tanning along the Grand River’s south channel. The property was sold to Eastpoint Development LLC in 2010.

Permits were issued for the demolition of the facility last year, and crews have been tearing down buildings on the site.

The recreation building and wastewater plant on the Eagle Ottawa property are expected to be saved from demolition.

Tribune reporter Alex Doty contributed to this report.

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