EFFINGHAM, Illinois -- Thirty-three firefighters from area departments were on scene for several hours Saturday at a Quad Graphics plant in Effingham to combat a fire that was caused when an industrial paper shredder malfunctioned.
Effingham Assistant Fire Chief Matt Kulesza said the industrial paper shredder overheated and sent sparks into the factory's exhaust system, which feeds a second-floor cyclone. The cyclone takes waste paper material through duct works to a bag house and then delivers it to the balers. In all, there were two cyclones, two balers, a shredder and a bag house involved in the fire, Kulesza said.
It took about 11,000 gallons of water to get the fire under control inside the factory, where it was contained.
"We had to disassemble piping and panels to get to where the fire was," said Kulesza. "Whenever you get into an industrial setting like that, it becomes a very time consuming and difficult process."
He added Quad Graphics maintenance team aided by relaying how to take apart some machines and provided the fire crews proper tools, although they couldn't be in the same area working due to the conditions the fire and smoke caused.
The estimated damage was not known by Sunday afternoon, but Effingham Fire Department will continue to work with Quad Graphics to determine the extent and cost of damages.
Effingham Fire Department, including its off-duty firefighters, arrived on scene at 1200 Niccum Avenue three minutes after the call came in at 3:24 p.m. Soon other area fire districts were called in to help. At the scene were Effingham, Teutopolis, Shumway and Watson firefighters. Covering Effingham's stations were Altamont, St. Elmo and Montrose fire protection districts.
"The employees were already evacuated when we arrived," said Kulesza. "There were no injuries, but Abbott EMS was there to check over our guys because of the conditions we were working in."
He said numerous bottles of "self-contained breathing air" or SCBA were collected and refilled and then brought back to the scene for firefighters over the course of the call. Some of the firefighters worked inside, while others were outside where harsh weather conditions included high winds, thunderstorm and lightning.
Quad Graphics crews were putting equipment and piping back together on Sunday. Once everything is back in place and the facility is given an OK by the EPA, it is expected to be up and running this week, Kulesza said.