By Ron Bygness
A six-hour blaze at Tensar International’s Morrow, Ga. manufacturing plant Wednesday is still under investigation.
The fire started around 2 p.m. and was finally brought under control with layer after layer of crash-foam sprayed by trucks from Hartsfield International Airport, according to reports from Atlanta.
The Tensar plant, which manufactures geogrids, employs 85 people and all were reported safe late Wednesday. “Our people are safe,” plant manager Brian Connelly told reporters. “We can re-make the inventory. That’s what we do.”
The fire’s intensity poured huge clouds of black smoke across northern Clayton County, just south of Atlanta, prompting traffic re-routing and stay-in-shelter orders for nearby businesses and residents.
Connelly told Clayton County Fire officers that it appeared the fire started in a back corner of the warehouse “and it spread very quickly” engorging stacks of the geosynthetic material stored outdoors.
At the onset, firefighters were concerned that spraying water or foam could expand the fire. More than 1 million pounds of polymer-based geogrids were on-site at the time. Once the fire-source material was identified, the foam—intended to put out fuel-fed aircraft fires—was applied in layers, eventually smothering the flames.
By 8 p.m., the fire was contained but firefighters remained at the site to attack hot spots. A representative from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was also on-site to help investigators assess the situation.
Tensar’s corporate headquarters is in northern Fulton County, north of Atlanta. The company is known worldwide in the geosynthetics industry for its patented, soil-reinforcing geogrids.