April 24, 2014

Elyria
Partly sunny
43°F
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Fire damages Beckett Air in North Ridgeville

NORTH RIDGEVLLE — A spark that may have ignited combustible material inside a custom collector used for laser-cutting equipment could be to blame for an early morning fire that caused $25,000 to $30,000 damage at Beckett Air Inc.

About 25 firefighters from North Ridgeville, Elyria, Avon, North Olmsted and Olmsted Falls responded to alarms at the business off Race Road at 4:55 a.m. Thursday, according to the North Ridgeville Fire Department.

When departments arrived, they found heavy smoke in a large building at the firm, which manufactures fans and blowers for furnaces, air conditioning units and other ventilation equipment.

“People were arriving (for work) as we got there,” North Ridgeville Assistant Fire Chief Scott Bement said.“It’s a sizable building. There were at least 20 people there.”

A small overnight crew of six to eight workers was inside when the alarm went off, according to Chuck Visocky, CEO of Beckett Air.

“Some people on first shift came in early,” Visocky said.

Employees were first directed outside but were later taken indoors to an office and lunchroom area unaffected by the fire or smoke, according to Bement.

“They could stay warm there, and by that time the smoke had cleared, Bement added.

Smoke was cleared with the help of fans, and the opening of overhead loading dock doors, Bement said.

No one was injured in the incident, and workers were permitted to return to their jobs after four hours, Visocky said.

Manufacturing operations continued normally after employees were cleared to return to the affected area, Visocky said.

The fire in the dust collector was extinguished quickly, with mutual aid units from Elyria, Avon and Olmsted Falls released after about 30 minutes.

Firefighters from North Ridgeville and North Olmsted were at the scene for about an hour checking on other areas, Bement said.

The laser-cutting equipment is used to cut sheet metal used in the manufacture of blowers and fans, Visocky said.

Company personnel investigating the fire theorize sparks from the laser cutting may have entered the dust collector, where they ignited flammable materials, Visocky said.

“We haven’t concluded our investigation yet,” he said.

Visocky estimated it would cost $25,000 to $30,000 to replace the dust collector.

Contact Steve Fogarty at 329-7146 or sfogarty@chroniclet.com.