Crime

Tower at Alcoa Intalco Works catches fire, no injuries

This aerial photo taken Sept. 19, 2013, shows Alcoa Intalco Works near Ferndale. A 130-foot sonic tower at the plant caught fire Tuesday night, June 30, before firefighters accessed the top of the tower and put out the flames.
This aerial photo taken Sept. 19, 2013, shows Alcoa Intalco Works near Ferndale. A 130-foot sonic tower at the plant caught fire Tuesday night, June 30, before firefighters accessed the top of the tower and put out the flames. The Bellingham Herald

A 130-foot tower at Alcoa Intalco Works caught fire, and firefighters had to climb up a catwalk to put out the flames Tuesday night, June 30.

Flames and smoke could be seen from the top of the tower when firefighters arrived shortly after 8 p.m., said Whatcom County Fire District 7 Chief Gary Russell. They were on scene for more than two hours. Nobody was hurt.

The fire was confined to ductwork at the top of what the company calls the sonic tower, which is part of the emissions treatment center, said company spokeswoman Raina Clark. All safety and fire suppression systems operated correctly, and normal operations at the plant west of Ferndale have resumed, she said.

The plant was not shut down because there was no risk of the fire spreading, Russell said. A total of 22 firefighters responded, along with an Intalco emergency response team.

Firefighters had to use a 100-foot aerial platform, and some climbed up a catwalk so they could access the origin of the fire, Russell said.

There have been “minor events” in the same tower previously, he said, but it was the first time firefighters had responded to such a fire at Intalco.

The company was investigating the cause on Wednesday, Clark said.

“They’re scratching their heads, too, right now,” Russell said.

Reach Wilson Criscione at 360-756-2803 or wilson.criscione@bellinghamherald.com.

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