Troy Firefighters spray water on the exterior of Midwest Acorn, 501 Executive Drive, to extinguish a large fire that broke through the roof of the building April 11.

Troy Firefighters spray water on the exterior of Midwest Acorn, 501 Executive Drive, to extinguish a large fire that broke through the roof of the building April 11.

Firefighters extinguish fire breaking through roof of local business

Crews spend over 8 hours at the scene

By: Jonathan Shead | Troy Times | Published April 14, 2021

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An activated fire alarm at Midwest Acorn Nut Co., 501 Executive Drive, quickly turned into a blaze that took Troy firefighters and other emergency personnel over eight hours to extinguish and clean up April 11. 

According to a Troy Fire Department press release, firefighters from Station 4 were dispatched on the first call for the activated fire alarm at 11:22 a.m. While en route, 911 received a second call from a nearby business whose staff said they could see fire brimming through the roof of the building. Two more fire engines and a ladder truck from Station 1 were dispatched to assist.

Fire crews responded promptly to the call and were ready for the worst, Troy Fire Department Lt. Mike Koehler said. 

“We respond to fire alarms as if there is a fire going on. That’s just the mentality we have when we’re going into it,” he said. “It was getting the appropriate amount of resources there, which we had the initial station going, then upgraded to bring another station in, just basically trying to quickly assess the situation and start getting the operations going, getting water on the fire and figuring out the extent of what the situation was.”

After arriving and confirming that flames had breached the building’s ceiling, it was deemed unsafe for firefighters to enter the building to fight the blaze. 

“You could see that smoke from 5 (or) 6 miles away. It was a large amount of dark, black smoke in the sky. We knew immediately that there was a large fire and we were going to need some additional resources,” Koehler said. 

The team at the scene set up an exterior, or “defensive,” operation to take down the fire from the outside. Another ladder truck from Station 3 arrived to support exterior efforts. Crews worked to extinguish the fire from the outside for approximately two hours before it was safe to go inside, Koehler said.

“Once we were able to put a majority of the fire out, then we were able to go inside. Obviously, there was a lot of smoke in that building. It’s a large industrial building with a lot of smoke inside, so we had to ventilate the structure and get an idea of what was going on,” he said, adding that firefighters simultaneously continued trying to extinguish the “roof membrane” that continued to burn. 

Fire crews began extensive overhaul operations to begin putting out smaller, isolated fires inside the manufacturing plant. They were joined by firefighters from Station 5 who brought additional equipment to help fight the isolated hotspots inside.

Large amounts of combustible materials — such as cardboard boxes, wood pallets and plastics — found inside kept crews inside working for several hours, but Koehler said the firefighters who responded to the scene are used to the extra challenge. 

“The stations that are responding, a large part of their area is large commercial (or) industrial buildings. It’s something we know we’re going to encounter, so we’re prepared for it, but there are some additional precautions we take,” he said. “It poses some additional challenges that we just need to be aware of, but we’re in the mindset of, we know that those hazards are there, so we’re prepared to deal with them accordingly.”

The cause of the fire is still under investigation, and an estimated cost of damage is still unknown. 

“That’s really up to the building inspectors to determine if it’s something they can salvage or not,” Koehler said. “Insurance companies will obviously get involved, but there is extensive damage both to the structure and the contents of the building. It’s very difficult to put a number to that now.” 

A Midwest Acorn Nut Co. representative could not be reached by press time. 

More than 50 firefighters from across four of Troy’s fire stations worked at the scene for over eight hours to extinguish the blaze alongside other emergency personnel. No injuries or fatalities were reported as a result of the fire. 

“It was a good team effort, not only of our firefighters working together from multiple stations, but we had help from the Police Department, the Department of Public Works, (and) Alliance Mobile Health,” Koehler said. “I think it goes to show the teamwork we have, both as a department and inter-departments, that we come together at a time of need and we were able to get the job done and nobody got hurt. Everyone went home safe.” 

For more information, call the Troy Fire Department at (248) 524-3419. 

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