Fire Hits ProPet

ST. MARYS —  A fire that started Friday morning at a pet food facility kept area firefighters busy much of the day.

Shortly after 8 a.m. Friday, crews from the St. Marys Fire Department responded to a fire call at ProPet, located on McKinley Road. St. Marys Fire Chief Joey Weaver said it did firefighters a little time to determine the cause of the fire.

“We have some smoldering product,” Weaver told The Evening Leader Friday afternoon. “There’s a layer we’ve been having some trouble getting to because of the location.”

Battling fires at the pet food facility provides firefighters with a few challenges.

“For one it’s difficult to access,” Weaver said. “It’s high and it’s in a tough location. There is no exterior access — there’s one in and one out.”

Crews removed a portion of the product from the silo to expose the smoldering areas. Firefighters then used water to extinguish what was smoldering. The location of the smoldering product provided a challenge throughout the process.

“We cut access holes in the side of the tank to get in,” Weaver said. “We are spraying water into it and it’s had an impact because the smoke has been cut back.”

After an hour at the scene, Weaver called for mutual aid from St. Marys Township and later New Bremen and New Knoxville fire departments. The extra manpower allowed firefighters to get some rest before heading back to battle the fire.

“It’s a long, intensive process,” Weaver said. “We called in for mutual aid for manpower and to rotate firefighters so they aren’t getting overtaxed. We also have crews on standby in case they get into trouble.”

Weaver noted fires at ProPet also pose a challenge because of the material manufactured at the plant.

When pet food heats up, Weaver said it becomes thick and clumps together like molasses —  making it difficult to remove.

The Auglaize County EMA also responded to the scene, and McDonald’s of St. Marys provided hamburgers for the firefighters to eat during breaks.

In June, multiple agencies responded to a similar fire at ProPet. That fire kept dozens of firefighters busy for hours.

“It’s pretty much the same scenario as last time,” Weaver said.

“We will have a discussion with the company to see if we can mitigate some of these responses.”

No one was injured fighting the fire. Crews started wrapping up the scene at approximately 6  p.m.