Multiple fire departments continue to battle a fire at FPM Heat Treating at 648 Hwy 20 in Cherry Valley.
“This is bad. This is real, real bad.” says FPM Heat Treating employee William Richardson as flames shoot up from the roof of the building. Fire engines from all over the Stateline rushed to the scene to help put out the blaze.
Boone County Fire Chief Kent Hulett immediately called for a box alarm when they saw the heavy black smoke, saying “The hazards here are number one, we have no water supply so we have 17 fire departments through our mutual aid box alarm system shuttling in water.” Firefighters are experiencing “zero visibility” inside the building because of that heavy smoke. That’s making it harder to find a source.
A nearby business owner says she was ready to call 9-1-1 when she realized where the smoke was coming from. Rebekah Rawson says, “I just saw flumes of black smoke and was instantly afraid that it was something in Cherry Valley by my business’ property.” Her business next door is safe. But William Richardson doesn’t feel as lucky, “Am i still going to have a job? Am i going to get paid on my days off? Am i gonna get laid off? What’s going to happen?”
Chief Hulett says the department has responded to fires at the Cherry Valley plant four times in the last 18 months, “We’ve had some problems with fires in the ventilation system prior to coming today. I suspect that’s how this started but at this time i would only be speculating the cause of the fire.”
Boone County fire officials say their crews are using extra caution because of hazardous materials inside, calling the fire a “high risk operation”, Chief Hulett says “Our main concern is ever so often, we do accountability of our firefighters because we have firefighters in the back and in the rear.”