Storage Fire Forces Kentucky Residents from Homes

October 13, 2008

A smoky fire in a paper mill storage building forced residents from their homes and is likely to continue to burn for days, Kentucky officials said.

The Paducah Sun reported that homes and businesses within one-half mile of the burning Wickliffe Skid Mill were evacuated for an hour on Oct. 10 while firefighters determined if the building contained hazardous chemicals.

Much of the large metal building is leased to the paper company NewPage Corp. and was used to store excess equipment and a small amount of non-hazardous chemicals, said NewPage spokeswoman Sandra Wilson. No paper was housed there, she said.

The building would probably burn for two more days because of its large size, said Donald Elrod, president of Hazmat One Hazardous Materials Regional Response Team, which assisted firefighters.

A nearby state highway was closed for nearly five hours because of the blaze, firefighters said.

One person was taken to the hospital and treated for heat exhaustion and two firefighters were treated for heat exhaustion at the scene, officials said.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

NewPage Corp., based in Miamisburg, Ohio, produces 340,000 tons per year of paper at its Wickliffe facility, according to its Web site.

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