Most of the employees were grouped in a parking lot on the west side of the building while firefighters lined up their equipment along the road.
Firefighters responding to the scene found fire in the insulation to the roof structure, along with some trusses, according to Spring Lake Township Fire Marshal Brian Sipe.
“Firefighters were able to quickly contain the fire,” Sipe said. “However, extinguishing the fire was a challenge due to the fire’s location over large machinery and due to the fact that many of the materials used in the building are very volatile when exposed to water.”
“They’ve been a foundry for years,” Nuvill said. “So, on the beams up there is a thick layer of dust.”
Nuvill said the metal dust on the trusses kept flaring up. And because of the nature of the materials in the plant, firefighters had to shovel the dust into barrels of water to put out the fire.
“Every time they moved it, it starts burning,” Nuvill said.
Firefighters could not spray water on the fire.
“It would just move the fire around,” the chief said.
And due to the extreme weather conditions, there was also a need for a lot of fire personnel.
Nuvill said due to the heat, firefighters would work in shifts of 15-20 minutes each, then go sit in the air-conditioned ambulance to cool off.
The fire was extinguished at 11 p.m. and the final group of firefighters cleared the scene shortly after midnight.
Sipe said further investigation revealed that there was a hydraulic fluid leak from one of the machines, which sprayed over the area, including the roof insulation, and eventually ignited.
Damage was limited to the roof structure, but company officials were going to have to investigate further to determine the extent of the damage, Sipe said.
Assisting fire departments were Crockery Township, Ferrysburg, Fruitport, Norton Shores, and Grand Haven and Robinson townships. North Ottawa Community Hospital paramedics, the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Department and Norton Shores Canteen 450 also assisted.