Tragedy averted at asphalt plant fire

September 28, 2017 03:46 PM

GLENVILLE - There were some tense moments in Schenectady County Thursday morning, when flames were seen at the same asphalt plant where a fire took the lives of two people last year.

Mohawk Asphalt Emulsions in Glenville was the scene of that fatal fire nearly one year ago. Fire crews say when they arrived on scene, it all seemed eerily familiar. This time though, they were ready.

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Thomas Corners Fire Chief Garth Riccio remembers that bad day well.

"The last time we were here was a bad, bad day," he recalled.

Fortunately, it was a very different story on Thursday morning.

The first calls came in around 6:30 a.m. about a fire at Mohawk Asphalt Emulsions in Glenville. Right away, there was worry about history repeating itself.

"Last time, we came in with our eyes closed," recalled Riccio.

This time, the lessons learned in last year's fire helped first responders and plant employees avoid tragedy.

"There were workers directly near when it happened and like I said, they did exactly the right thing. They got out of here. Nobody got injured, nobody got burned," he noted. "Facilities can be replaced, you know. People can't.

No cause has been determined for the fire yet, but Riccio says there was no explosion -- just a fire that was quickly brought under control.  They did consider evacuating a nearby hotel in case the situation got away from them.

"We did not evacuate. We were prepared to evacuate just because of the amount of the fire. It was an asphalt-type material that was on fire, so that can expand, plus there's a lot of other tanks. We did try to make accommodations that if we had to evacuate, we were going to evacuate. That plan, we ended up staging down just because of the fact that there was no immediate danger to the hotel," noted Riccio.

Last year's incident resulted in the company being fined by OSHA for a couple of safety violations.

NewsChannel 13 was on the phone with the Gorman Group Thursday morning. The emulsion plant is a subsidiary of Gorman. They had no comment at this time.


WNYT Staff

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