A second fire broke out Thursday afternoon at the Advanced Environmental Recycling Technologies plant in Lowell, just hours after an explosion rocked a silo at the plant. Emergency crews are on the scene and responding to the second fire.
Local firefighters first responded to a fire at 7:18 a.m. at the AERT site, but no injuries were reported. That fire happened when an explosion blew the top off of a silo, according to the Lowell Fire Department.
“My dog jumped three feet in the air straight from a laying position, and we ran outside to see what had happened”, said Debbie Neece, a neighbor.
The fire from earlier in the day re-ignited into a separate fire in the same silo in the afternoon at 3:50 p.m., according to a statement from AERT. Officers blocked off Lincoln Street, but resumed traffic at about 5:30 p.m.
Crews with the Lowell Fire Department responded to the second fire and used three hoses to spray down the silo, firefighters said. No one was injured in the second fire, either.
An AERT facility in Springdale experienced a fire last week That fire killed one worker and left another hospitalized at a burn unit in Missouri. A third worker suffered minor injuries and was released from the hospital the same day as the incident.
Officials with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration in Little Rock are investigating Thursday’s fires, as well as the fire in the Springdale plant from last week, according to OSHA.
Meanwhile, Neece said she is concerned for the future.
“I would just like to see more than just OSHA investigation. I want an in-depth investigation, out of safety for the workers,” she said. “And I am concerned about their work environment, but also for our residential area.”
AERT released a statement at 5:35 p.m., saying:
“AERT experienced a silo rupture at 7:18 am at its Lowell, AR plastic recycling facility where the roof panels popped off, as designed, due to pressure build up in the plastic silo. Lowell fire and company officials were on site and the Lowell fire department responded, initially secured the area, and extinguished the material inside the silo at approximately 12:00 pm. At 3:50 pm the material reignited and Lowell Fire Department returned and extinguished the fire.
The Lowell plant was evacuated as a safety precaution and will resume normal operations shortly. There were no injuries related to this incident. The company will disassemble the silo, remove the material, and make appropriate repairs and safety inspections.
Additional information will be forth coming once the silo is inspected.”