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Fire destroys plant building

<p>photo by Mulberry Police Chief Shannon Gregory.</p><p>Dakota Perceful, deputy fire chief with Mulberry Fire Department, helps fight the blaze at Crawford County Pallets in Mulberry early Wednesday morning.</p>

photo by Mulberry Police Chief Shannon Gregory.

Dakota Perceful, deputy fire chief with Mulberry Fire Department, helps fight the blaze at Crawford County Pallets in Mulberry early Wednesday morning.

A fire destroyed the chipping building of a pallet plant in Mulberry early Wednesday but firefighters kept it from spreading to surrounding areas.

Mulberry firefighters responded at about 2:20 a.m. to a fire at Crawford County Pallets at 21 South Main Street after a neighbor saw the glow from the flames and called 911.

When the firefighters came on scene and saw that the structure was enveloped in flames, they went into defensive mode, said Mulberry Fire Chief Jeff Marvin.

“Instead of attacking that fire directly, we started attacking the area around it,” Marvin said. “Our main efforts were to keep it from spreading to other buildings.”

A backhoe and other equipment was used to push wood chips, pallets, sawdust and other highly flammable materials away from the fire, Marvin said.

Firefighters remained at the scene for almost eight hours, until about 10 a.m. They returned to the plant at noon to put out a few flare-ups, Marvin said.

No one was at the plant at the time of the fire. Firefighters had to cut the locks on the gate to get to the flames, Marvin said.

Dyer and Crawford County Rural Fire Department District 1 firefighters assisted at the scene. The American Red Cross brought food and drinks to the firefighters.

One firefighter was overheated and another was cut on the hand during the operation, Marvin said Both were treated at the site by Southwest EMS. No one else was injured.

Though the building and equipment inside was destroyed, the company’s owner told Mayor Gary Baxter that its loss would not affect production. The company was in full operation Thursday, Baxter said.

“That’s because of the quick actions of the fire department,” Baxter said. “They were very effective in keeping it contained to one building.”

Wednesday was not the first time firefighters have been called out to the site. Marvin said he has been out there four or five times within the past 20 years, but had not seen a fire to the extent of the one on Wednesday.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

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