Wednesday, June 14, 2000

6 plant workers injured in blaze

Employees treated, released for smoke inhalation

By Walt Schaefer
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        BLUE ASH — A flash fire Tuesday morning sent six workers from the Xomox Corp. to area hospitals for treatment of smoke inhalation.


(Glenn Hartong photo)
| ZOOM |

        Blue Ash Fire Chief Jim Fehr said the fire occurred at 8:19 a.m. when a worker dropped a mold used in making plastic valves at the plant at 4444 Cooper Road, opposite the city's swimming pool and recreation center.

        The mold hit a hydraulic line, triggering a hydraulic fluid leak near a series of electrical switches, which ignited the fluid and resulted in fire and heavy smoke, Chief Fehr said.

        The six workers in the area near a hydraulic press fled in the dense smoke to a nearby room, where they were trapped and suffered smoke inhalation. The plant's sprinkler system put out the blaze and firefighters led the workers outside, said Blue Ash Safety Director Bruce Henry.

        Other plant employees, aware that their co-workers might be trapped, tried to break through a brick wall to rescue their colleagues, Mr. Henry said.

        Chief Fehr said all of those injured were treated and released. Taken to Jewish Hospital were: Stephen Spenlen, 48, of Phillorett Court, Green Township; Christine Shepherd, 40, of Cinnamon Woods Drive, West Chester; and Jeff Livengood, 28, of Oneida Drive, Loveland.

        Taken to Bethesda North Hospital were Hyram Hooker, 60, of Crystal View Court, Sharonville; Dell Ayers, 51, of York Street, Rossmoyne; and George Monroe, 59, of Betty Lane, Milford.

        Blue Ash paramedics were assisted by paramedic units from Montgomery, Sharonville, Evendale and Sycamore Township.

        Mr. Henry credited the company's fire safety program, sprinkler system and the plant's fire brigade for saving lives and keeping damage minimal.

        Xomox President John Kaiser said the Blue Ash plant employs 280. “The employees are all OK. A few are shook up. We've been here (more than) 30 years and we have a lot of 20- and 30-year employees. It's like family. We put a lot of time and effort into our safety systems, and it showed to day.”

        The plant reopened late Tuesday morning, and production resumed in the afternoon. Mr. Kaiser said the plant manufactures molded plastic valves for use in the pharmaceutical, chemical, and pulp and paper industries.

        Chief Fehr said damage to the building appears minimal. Fire damage was limited to some rubber hoses, hydraulic lines with water and smoke damage. The chief said it was too soon to provide a damage estimate.


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