BURK’S FALLS – As black smoke spewed from its roof, production at Lofthouse came to a screeching halt Wednesday morning.
“There is still smoke right down to the floor,” said Operations Manager Derek Dobbs having taken a peek inside the building as fire crews battled the blaze into the early afternoon.
Burk’s Falls and District, Perry, Magnetawan, and Sundridge-Strong fire departments all attended the scene after the fire alarm in the factory was triggered around 11:30 a.m. Oct. 24.
“Right now it looks like one of the smog hogs caught fire,” said Dobbs.
“Smog hogs” are air filtration systems installed above the presses to remove smoke from the air during production, Dobbs explained.
He said the metal parts require lubricant to extract them from the die, but when the lubricant is heated it creates a substantial amount of smoke. According to Dobbs, the building houses four smog hogs in total.
Dobbs said a different smog hog caught fire at the plant in recent history, but it was before he became an employee there nearly five years ago.
Fire crews were able to snuff out the flames before 1 p.m. with multiple attacks from inside the building and from the roof over the manufacturing part of the building.
As a result of the blaze, about one hundred day-shift employees were forced outside and subsequently sent home.
“We’re not sure what we’ll do about the next shift,” he said, noting the night shift would begin arriving around 3 p.m.
The factory, which spans over 70,000 square feet, employs approximately 150 people.
Inside the building are housed some of the most advanced brass and metal manufacturing equipment and processes in North America building parts for wide range of sectors including plumbing, automotive and more. The plant has seen significant investments in recent years increasing automation in every aspect of the operation.
An official cause of the fire was not available at press time.