Division Chief Andrew Kellogg said the Tracy fire department received a call about the fire at the aggregate plant at 4:58 p.m. The facility had been shut down and a demolition crew was in the middle of tearing down the steel structures.
The fire started while crews were dismantling an asphalt-aggregate separator, a tumbling drum about 15 feet long with a circumference of about 4 feet, lined with rubber teeth.
The cutting torch was being used to slice away a metal chute below the tumbler, and heat from the torch ignited the rubber lining of the tumbler.
The fire traveled up the structure, igniting a second, larger tumbler.
“It was like fighting a tire fire,” Kellogg said. “We had a large volume of fire with a limited water supply. I called in a second alarm on the fire for apparatus to get two water trucks.”
Kellogg said access and a lack of water hindered efforts to fight the fire.
“Their water supply was very limited during the dismantling” Kellogg said, explaining that because the site was being demolished, “all the fire protection water supplies had been turned off.”
Demolition crews had also removed some of the ladders leading up three-story structure, forcing firefighters to set up portable ladders carried on the fire engines to reach areas of the fire.
In all, five fire engines, two ladder trucks and two water trucks were called to the plant, and the fire crews took about 45 minutes to control the flames.
Fire engines with lights and sirens traveled down South MacArthur Drive to find a hydrant and to refill the onboard water tanks.
“Once we were able to get a good water supply, we were able to introduce firefighting foam and the fire went out pretty quick,” Kellogg said.
The column of smoke rising in the southern sky drew many onlookers who stopped along West Linne Road and South MacArthur Drive to watch the fire. The smoke had dissipated by 6 p.m.
Kellogg estimated property loss from the fire at $5,000. The rubber in the tumblers was going to be recycled and the metal was headed to a scrap yard, so the loss was minimal, he said.
Kellogg said Teichert Aggregates had moved its rock operation to South Bird Road and is one of three aggregate companies there.
• Contact Glenn Moore at 830-4252 or email@example.com