Louisiana Pacific fire leaves damage, but no injury

Firefighters gather after putting out a fire at Louisiana-Pacific (LP) Corporation’s Hanceville campus.

A weekend fire at Louisiana-Pacific (LP) Corporation’s Hanceville campus damaged a structure, but resulted in no injuries. 

Three local fire departments responded at the scene of the fire, which broke out inside the main building at the Louisiana Pacific campus Saturday afternoon. Located in south Hanceville just east of U.S. Highway 31, the company’s Cullman County location manufactures oriented strand board (OSB), a wood sheathing product similar to particle board, for construction applications. 

Hanceville fire chief Roger Green said the fire appears to have begun at the plant’s main production line, after a section of OSB material became lodged in a press that applies intense heat as part of the production process. 

“There was a piece of the OSB plywood that they process, and that material had gotten caught up in the heat press and gotten jammed,” said Green Monday. “It was just exposed to excessive heat. The OSB material is made of dried chips and glue, and it ignited.”

Fire teams at Hanceville, Garden City, and Johnson’s Crossing responded to the fire. Because of initial reports that there may have been an explosion at the plant (there wasn’t), responders with Cullman EMS and Jasper-based RPS (Regional Paramedical Services) also dispatched emergency units, said Green.

Hanceville mayor Kenneth Nail, who was among the first of Hanceville’s respondents at the scene, said five fire engines showed up at the plant to extinguish the the blaze. The initial report of the fire came in to dispatchers at 2:26 p.m. Saturday.

“I was at city hall doing some work when the call came in, and I just got in my truck and followed the first fire engine in,” he said Monday. “It looked like the whole south end of Cullman County had caught on fire. Thankfully, responders were able to put it out without any injury or loss of life.”

“It’s a large structure, and because of the way it’s designed, plus with the sprinklers going off, it’s hard to see what the damage is as you’re working the fire — but it was pretty substantial. They’re still receiving logs into the plant, so thankfully, it didn’t shut them down, and people at the plant are still working while they’re trying to get things back up and running.”

Calls to Louisiana Pacific’s Hanceville campus Monday were not answered. The plant is one of eight OSB manufacturing facilities the Nashville-based company operates in the U.S., and one of twelve that it owns throughout North and South America. LP also operates another Alabama OSB plant in Clarke County. 

Benjamin Bullard can be reached by phone at 256-734-2131 ext. 145.

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