An Everson nylon casting business that has suffered two substantial fires since 2006 had another Thursday evening, but the building’s sprinkler system kept damage to a minimum and allowed everybody to get out safely.
Whatcom County Fire District 1, with the assistance of crews from the Lynden Fire Department and North Whatcom Fire and Rescue, responded to a report of a commercial fire at 7:52 p.m. at the Nylatech, Inc. facility at 223 W. Main St.
According to District 1 Chief Mel Bankers in an interview Friday with The Bellingham Herald, a machine that heats up raw plastic and spins it at a high rate of speed before pouring it into a mold malfunctioned.
“One of the employees heard a loud pop,” Blankers told The Herald. “They think it was the sound of a bolt breaking in the machine. After that happened, plastic began to leak out, and it was extremely hot — near its flash point. When the fumes found an ignition source, they ignited.”
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Fortunately, the two employees working in the building at the time evacuated unharmed, Blankers said, and a sprinkler system quickly extinguished the flames.
“The things in place for life safety worked and did their job,” Blankers told The Herald. “It certainly could have been a lot worse.”
By the time fire crews arrived, Blankers said the building was still full of smoke, and firefighters had to bring in a hose to check for fire extension in the roof, where they found some insulation that was beginning to burn. Blankers estimated the fire damage at $5,000 plus whatever damage there was to the malfunctioning machinery.
Compared to previous fires at Nylatech, Thursday’s was relatively minor.
According to Bellingham Herald archives, a machine explosion in October of 2017 at the company’s facility at 406 Lincoln St., Everson, caused relatively minor injuries to two employees, while a 2006 fire that was believed to have been started by an electrical malfunction caused nearly $750,000 in damage and left 25 people jobless.
According to its website, Nylatech makes nylon sheeting for industrial, marine and other applications.