Fire departments from across Sampson County responded Wednesday night to Rheinfelden Americas, where smoke was seen pouring out of the building, the result of a fire that originated from a furnace within the aluminum slug production plant.
A sheriff’s deputy was driving by the plant around 10 p.m. — it is in close proximity to the Sheriff’s Office — when he saw smoke coming from the structure, located at 520 E. Railroad St. in Clinton, and called it in. There were employees working when the fire started inside the building, where aluminum slugs are produced.
Jerry Cashwell, of the Sampson County Fire Marshal’s Office, said his office said not conduct a formal investigation, and said Clinton Fire Department was the primary agency that handled the matter. Clinton Fire Chief Austin Tew relayed information on the incident to City of Clinton manager Tom Hart.
Reached Thursday, Hart said employees inside at the time, as well as firefighters who responded to the fire, were able to get out unharmed.
The call came in at 9:59 p.m. Wednesday and the Clinton Fire Department was on the scene five minutes later.
“They started to attack the fire at that point,” said Hart. “The fire was in the area of one of the furnaces they use to melt the aluminum product they make. There were no injuries and the employees were accounted for.”
Rheinfelden Americas is jointly owned by CCL Industries Inc., based in Ontario with U.S. headquarters in Pennsylvania, and Rheinfelden Semis, a leading European producer of aluminum slugs based in Germany. They are two global industries involved in aluminum container production. The Clinton plant, established several years ago, employs approximately 60 people who work three shifts.
Rheinfelden Americas purchased the Aludisc building and equipment in Clinton at the end of 2014 with the intention to run a renovated and expanded aluminum disc production facility that would tap an American market, notably providing aluminum slugs for aerosol cans.
Among those responding Wednesday night were fire departments from Clinton, Taylors Bridge, Halls, Turkey, Roseboro, Salemburg and Herring, along with Sampson County EMS, rescue personnel, the Fire Marshal’s Office, Clinton Police Department and Sampson County Sheriff’s Office. Traffic was rerouted on both ends of Railroad Street while units were on scene.
The fire was able to be contained and units cleared the scene at 12:27 a.m. Thursday. While no superficial damage could be seen on the exterior of the 185,000-square-foot structure, the extent of the damage inside the plant was not immediately known.
Reach Managing Editor Chris Berendt at 910-249-4616. Follow the paper on twitter @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.