Firefighters responded on Sunday to a fire at Olin Corporation’s Winchester Division ammunition plant in East Alton, Illinois. According to KMOV, seven fire departments were called in to put out the blaze, which was complicated when a number of propane cylinders exploded. The East Alton Fire Department recorded no injuries.
The fire reportedly started in a carpenter’s shop just before 3:15 a.m. and alarms at the site quickly alerted the authorities. Due to the nature of the materials stored at the plant, firefighters had to take special precautions and prevent the fire from reaching adjacent buildings. East Alton Fire Chief Randy Nelson told The Telegraph that this required extensive manpower and a large water supply.
“We had almost 2,000 feet of five-inch hose as part of our water supply efforts; at one point we were working on establishing water supply from three different hydrants,” he said, adding that the Sunday blaze was the largest response he had seen in almost 20 years.
The carpenter’s shop was completely destroyed in the blaze and some damage was reported on the surrounding buildings. Luckily, the shop was at a distance from the buildings where the actual ammunition was made. Responders were careful, however, to keep the fire from the 55-gallon drums of flammable liquid near and inside the buildings where the fire was raging.
The cause of the fire is yet to be determined, but Nelson stated that it appears to be accidental. The fire chief said that by 6 a.m. the fire was fully contained.
It is not currently known how the loss of the carpenter’s shop and damage to the surrounding buildings will affect production. Nelson observed that the plant has other carpenter’s shops and should not be too hampered in day-to-day production. OutdoorHub has contacted Olin Corporation representatives and is waiting for their response.
Winchester ammunition is owned by the Missouri-based Olin Corporation, which makes ammunition along with chlorine and sodium hydroxide products.