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Hundreds evacuated from Kimberly Clark facility during fire

CHESTER, Pennsylvania (From news reports) -- A fire forced the evacuation of hundreds of employees Wednesday morning, June 12, at the Kimberly Clark paper mill at 1 Avenue of The States in Chester.

Chester Fire Chief John Shirley said nobody was injured in the incident, which was reported about 10 a.m. when Chester firefighters were called to assist the factory fire brigade for smoke visible from the electric room.

Shirley said due to the size of the building a second alarm was quickly struck because all firefighters had been committed, and to stay ahead of any incident developing rapidly.

Initially one electrician was unaccounted for and a search was underway. Later, all Kimberly Clark employees were accounted for.

Shirley said until firefighters know everyone is accounted for, they treat them as missing, and with such a large facility it required a large commitment of manpower.

Crews stretched hoses, but did not charge the lines and Shirley said the second alarm was not deployed. He asked for the railroad traffic to be stopped because a supply line was being laid across the tracks.

Firefighters were asked to evacuate a third-floor scene, and it was reported that there was an explosion that knocked out power.

By shortly before 11 a.m., crews were waiting for a shutdown by the company.

The incident was placed under control at 11:11 a.m. Employees waited in assigned mustering points in parking lots away from the building.

A company employee told a visiting contractor to check in at the muster location to assure they are accounted for.

Crews were beginning to pull back the hose lines at 11:20 a.m., including the hose across the railroad tracks.

Officials from Kimberly Clark released the following statement:

"We can confirm firefighters responded to our Chester manufacturing facility Wednesday morning. First and foremost, we're pleased to report that all our team members are safe. Our Chester team is working closely with the fire department to gather information and determine next steps. At this time, we cannot share additional information."

The cause is under investigation by the fire marshal's office.

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