Firefighters emerge from a smoky entrance at the Blommer Chocolate plant in Upper Hanover Township Tuesday night. The fire, which brought some 75 firefighters, was the second fire in less than 24 hours.
East Greenville firefighters were called out twice in a 24-hour period to quell fires at Blommer Chocolate in Upper Hanover Township this week.
At 9:07 Monday night, the volunteers were dispatched for a report of fire inside the dust collector at the 1101 Blommer Drive plant. The caller reported seeing smoke but no fire.
Firefighters were on the scene until 11:45 p.m. According to East Greenville Fire Chief Grant Boyer, the fire was caused by a spark in the dust collector. Boyer said that one of the employees, per established procedure, called the dispatch center to alert the fire company that the temperature had risen in one of the dust collectors to an unsafe level.
Firefighters quickly found and controlled the source of the fire.
Fire companies assisting included Pennsburg, Red Hill and Green Lane. An ambulance from Upper Perkiomen Valley Ambulance Association stood by at the scene.
At 8:10 Tuesday night, firefighters were called back for a “fire in the NIB” line.
Boyer, one of the first firefighters to arrive at the scene, reported “heavy smoke coming from the roof” of the plant. He called for two additional engines to respond about 10 minutes after the initial dispatch. Firefighters in self-contained breathing apparatus were on the roof ventilating the smoke and three crews were in the building searching for the source of the fire. The additional manpower was needed to support them.
In temperatures that at times hit 500–600 degrees, firefighters fought through thick smoke on all three floors of the building to get to the fire in the dust bins.
The fire was declared under control at 9:11 p.m. and the firefighters began a search of other machines to insure that the fire had not spread further. The volunteers were on the scene until about 10:15 p.m.
About 5,000 gallons of water was used to battle Tuesday night’s blaze. No damage estimates were available for either call and Boyer believed the damage would be minimal because both fires involved non-edible by-products and waste from the production process. No injuries were reported from either incident.
Boyer said that the Monday night and Tuesday night fires were in different parts of the plant. The cause of both fires is not suspicious.
According to Upper Hanover Fire Marshall Jeff Ashman, the heat generated from processing cocoa beans at the chocolate company is a “product of production. You can safeguard and have detection systems in place but dust will form quickly and incidents will happen.” He went on to commend the maintenance staff of Blommer Chocolate for their attentiveness and quick action during times of emergency.
In addition to the com-panies responding to Monday’s fire, addition units from Hereford, Milford Township and Trumbauersville fire companies assisted at the scene. Friendship Hook and Ladder of Boyertown and Upper Salford fire companies were on stand-by in Pennsburg. In addition to Upper Perkiomen Valley Ambulance, additional emergency medical services units from Bally, St. Luke’s Quakertown, and Green Lane Community Ambulance stood by in the adjacent Walmart parking lot.