PUTNEY, Vermont (From The Rutland Herald) -- Putney Fire Chief Tom Goddard said Friday, 27 Jan. 2017, that dust created by the papermaking process at Soundview Paper was responsible for a fire that caused heavy damage to parts of the downtown paper mill.
Goddard said the Thursday evening fire was only the latest of several fires that have occurred at the mill, which for decades was known as Putney Paper.
Even though there were several employees in the area when the dust exploded and the fire broke out, there were no injuries, he said.
Goddard said workers were back on the job Friday despite the damage to one of the company's main papermaking machines, as well as damage to ductwork and roof timbers.
"There's a considerable amount of dust created, outside the machines, within the machines and in the duct work," he said.
He said the fire was "electrical in nature and accidental."
He said the fire did not affect what he called the lower mill.
Officials from Soundview Paper, which is based in Elmwood Park, New Jersey, did not return a call seeking comment. The mill makes tissue paper, napkins and tissue, much of it from recycled paper.
The fire chief said that the last time firefighters were called to Soundview for a dust-related fire was a year ago, but he said it had several times before that.
Workers could be seen on the roof of the lower plant, and there was some visible damage to the roof and ductwork on the top of the upper plant. Soundview also has a converting plant down near Interstate 91.
Goddard said most of the damage was confined to the interior of the mill.
"From the street, you wouldn't know anything was going on," he said, adding that the most visible damage was up on the plant's roof.
He said the company was hoping to resume papermaking on Friday, and that it had to replace several motors on machines before that would occur.
He said that the fire caused significant fire damage to interior walls and roofing members and that the firefighters had to forcibly remove roofing material and wall covering to fight the fire.
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