Fire causes about $1 million in damage to plant

Saturday, July 3rd 2004, 11:41 am
By: News On 6

MIDWEST CITY, Okla. (AP) _ A firefighter suffered heat exhaustion when fire broke out at a milk production plant, causing about $1 million in damage, authorities said.

Firefighters responded to a call about 7:30 a.m. Friday at the Sunny Meadows Dairy plant in Midwest City. The blaze was contained to the dryer chamber and the steel tubes that transport the milk, said Jerry Lojka, a spokesman with the Oklahoma City Fire Department.

``At the point that we arrived on the scene, the fire had already traveled into the supply tubing, and opening those doors (to the tubing) would have created much like a backdraft,'' Fire Chief Randy Olsen said. ``The system is laid out so it is optimum to their production process, but not conducive to the safety of the firefighters.''

Only one employee was assigned to work in the area where the fire broke out, Olsen said. No injuries to employees were reported, but a firefighter suffered heat exhaustion, he said.

The fire was still smoldering at 4 p.m., and firefighters decided to let it burn itself out, Olsen said.

It was the third such fire at the dairy in the past 16 years, he said. Two others were blamed on the drying system used to convert liquid to powdered milk, Olsen said.

Coordinator Mick Yarges said officials are considering replacing the drying system next month.