For the fourth time since February, Dalton Fire Department firefighters were sent to the same location to handle a fire among “bags and bags” of recycled carpet and backing, prompting the city’s fire chief to call for new codes to handle recycled carpet materials.
And the owner of the location said he is done serving as the holding facility for another business’ work.
Firefighters were quickly able to extinguish the Monday fire at Victor Carpet Mills at 1505 Coronet Drive near the intersection of Cleveland Highway and the Highway 41 North bypass. Fire Chief Todd Pangle said the call came in shortly before 1 p.m. and the fire was contained outside of the buildings and structures of the company. Pangle said there have been three incidents and one “call back” to the location since the first incident on Feb. 24.
Victor Carpet Mills owner Paul Walker said his facility has been a storage location for Avanti Environmental Group Inc., which is at 1406 Coronet Drive. Pangle said the recycled material is ground-up carpet scraps with rubber backing that goes through a two-step process to separate the fiber from the rubber, but the chemicals and rubber can ignite. Walker said the materials were “hot” and moved outside on Sunday and were supposed to have been hauled away before Monday’s fire.
“I am finished with this stuff,” Walker said. “It is a process I do with the people across the street, and no more. They were supposed to have it out of my building, and when they don’t do what they are supposed to do, some of the material is more prone to spontaneous combustion. We grind it down to a certain size and they remove the rubber and the fiber and then they use the rubber again. We do the first process on it and if they process it in the time they are supposed to, there isn’t danger.”
Messages left for Avanti President Lexin Weng were not immediately returned Monday afternoon.
The fire blasted black smoke into the area from what Pangle said were “30 to 40” bags of the material. None of the buildings were damaged, but at least one container trailer was destroyed.
“It’s almost like having a pile of tires on fire,” Pangle said. “It is a ground-up rubber and fiber mix. Once it catches on fire, it goes quickly. It is already sitting there generating heat, and when it catches, it puts off a large amount of black smoke. It was obvious what had happened as soon as I saw it.”
Pangle said he will look into approaching the City Council with an ordinance to bring more accountability.
“As of right now, there is no liability or fines that they will face,” Pangle said. “That may not be the case in the future. If it was one fire every four yeas, it would be different, but even two in a year is too many. We are going to have to look at some things we can do. Outside of local ordinances and codes, there is really nothing to address this, but we will look into that in the future. The last fire we had there, we had to put foam on it and that is a very expensive process."