Investigation into Seaver Finishing fire continues

Becky Vargo • May 11, 2017 at 8:00 AM

Officials are still investigating the cause of a fire that closed a Grand Haven factory on Tuesday afternoon.

It could be a month before Seaver Industrial Finishing, 1645 Marion St., produces product again, due to the amount of damage, said Doug Schoonveld, vice president of operations.

Firefighters from several area departments responded to a fire in the powder coating collector area at about 2:45 p.m. Tuesday. The first firefighters on the scene reported flames through the roof in the back of the building.

Emergency responders had trouble getting to the blaze because the powder collector is contained in a cement block room, Grand Haven Department of Public Safety Director Jeff Hawke said.

Firefighting efforts were also hampered by a partial roof collapse.

Hawke said an excavator was requested at 10 p.m. to remove the heating and cooling equipment from the roof and to knock down the walls on the north side of the building.

About 18 people were working in the building at the time of the fire, owner Craig Seaver said. The second shift was just starting to come to the plant.

Everyone safely evacuated the building, which was filling with smoke.

Schoonveld said an insurance representative was on site on Wednesday, as were electrical inspectors.

“Everything is happening really quickly,” he said.

Damage was contained to the back of the building. The oven — which bakes and cures coated parts — and the paint powder collector were destroyed. 

The fire started in the area of the powder collector, but officials are still not sure where and how it started, noted Schoonveld.

Ottawa County’s hazardous materials team responded to the scene to oversee any chemical situations, but Schoonveld noted that there were not any.

“We are being allowed in the building to access it right now,” he said late Wednesday morning. “We’re going to start removing things and get the ball rolling to get back online. Hopefully within a month we’ll be back running.”

Schoonveld said they were amazed at the lack of damage to the majority of the building, and he noted that there is minimal water damage.

“The sprinklers did their job well,” Schoonveld said. “The fire department did a great job. We commend those guys.”

Schoonveld said that they are checking with other powder coating facilities to help their customers.

Some employees will also be moved to the Hayes Street facility, which does electric coating.

An environmental company was also on scene pumping water out of the loading dock area.

Schoonveld explained the DEQ requested the water be removed in a contained fashion in case it contained pollutants.

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