ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Fire at Clow Stamping contained to entry

MERRIFIELD - Five fire departments quickly mobilized Tuesday night to tackle what could have been a commercial structure nightmare, but a sprinkler system did its work.

Firefighters enter a smoke filled entryway Tuesday after five area fire departments respond to a fire at Clow Stamping Company in Merrifield. (Kelly Humphrey, Brainerd Dispatch - Gallery and Video)
Firefighters enter a smoke filled entryway Tuesday after five area fire departments respond to a fire at Clow Stamping Company in Merrifield. (Kelly Humphrey, Brainerd Dispatch - Gallery and Video)

MERRIFIELD - Five fire departments quickly mobilized Tuesday night to tackle what could have been a commercial structure nightmare, but a sprinkler system did its work.

Flames were visible out the front entrance of a two-story vestibule at Clow Stamping. The fire was reported at 9:04 p.m. Tuesday.

Twyla Flaws, Clow Stamping personnel manager, said at least 70 employees were working in the plant at the time and evacuated without incident. The fire call came between shifts as another crew comes in for the 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. shift. Flaws said it's not unusual for the 10 p.m. crew members to arrive early and she thought one of those early arrivals may have been the one to spot the fire.

---

View a 41 image KLICK! Photo Gallery  - Klick Here!

ADVERTISEMENT

---

"Everybody's out and everybody's safe," Flaws said as she stood outside the plant. Flaws counted seven or eight fire trucks as she stood outside. "It's awfully nice to see them come out in force when you need them."

Nisswa Fire Chief Richard Geike said the 10-foot-by 25-foot glass entrance on the east side was engulfed in flame and the sprinklers activated to put the fire out.

"They had a sprinkler system that did it's job," Geike said. "... It's too early to tell what caused the fire."

Geike said damage to the building with fire, smoke and water was contained to the front entrance. Crews were continuing to check the building but the expectation was for working operations to continue Tuesday night.

"We got great response from the local fire departments, very professional," said Reggie Clow, company president and CEO. "I've never seen so many firefighters in one place in my life."

Fire crews from Nisswa, Mission, Crosslake, Brainerd and Pequot Lakes were on scene. About 50 firefighters were at the large manufacturing plant along with the Crow Wing County Sheriff's Office, Breezy Point Police and North Memorial Ambulance. Geike said the mobilization went well.

"It looked like an electrical fire," Clow said. "There is no fire damage in the interior of the building."

ADVERTISEMENT

Clow said it will be business as usual for the manufacturing plant.

Cody Polansky, a press operator, was one of the several people working the second shift when the fire alarm went off.

"We were working and then the supervisor was yelling 'Get out now, there is a fire,'" said Poliansky. "We all got out ... Nobody panicked, we were just nervous.

"It was pretty crazy. As he said 'fire' I could smell it."

Mike Tollefson, superviser of the second shift, said he was just doing his normal walk through of the plant when he heard people yelling and announcing a plant evacuation because of the fire. Tollefson said an employee who was not working was passing by and saw flames coming from the building and called 911.

Cameron Moser, another employee, said he didn't see anything, but he heard the fire alarms go off and people yelling to get out because of the fire.

Several employees said this is the first time they have ever seen a fire at the plant. Clow confirmed there has never been a fire at the facility.

At 10:24 p.m., Geike said fire crews were still ventilating the building. Employees had been allowed back in the building to work as the smoke was contained. But the plant's air-handling system began to move smoke in the plant to areas previously clear. Employees were evacuated a second time about 10 or 15 minutes after they returned to work. Geike said firefighters were checking the air quality and were continuing to ventilate the building before employees would be allowed back inside.

ADVERTISEMENT

Geike said Clow Stamping is the largest facility his fire crew has responded to.

Clow Stamping's sheer size, at 275,000 square feet, is enough to give a fire crew pause and was the reason for the large response.

 

JENNIFER STOCKINGER may be reached at jennifer.stockinger@brainerddispatch.com or 855-5851. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jennewsgirl .

RENEE RICHARDSON, associate editor, may be reached at 855-5852 or renee.richardson@brainerddispatch.com . Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/Dispatchbizbuzz .

Related Topics: FIRESCLOW STAMPING
What To Read Next
Fundraising is underway to move the giant ball of twine from the Highland, Wisconsin, home of creator James Frank Kotera, who died last month at age 75, 44 years after starting the big ball.
Inmates in-custody in the Mille Lacs County jail in Milaca, Minnesota
Inmates in-custody in the Hubbard County jail in Park Rapids, Minnesota
Inmates in-custody in the Todd County jail in Long Prairie, Minnesota