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No injuries reported in IFH Group fire

Building's 125 employees evacuated

Published: Thursday, Jan. 30, 2014 2:10 p.m. CDT • Updated: Friday, Jan. 31, 2014 3:37 p.m. CDT
(Alex T. Paschal/apaschal@saukvalley.com)
Firefighters are seen at a fire at IFH Group in Rock Falls. Fire broke out in a venting system at the manufacturing plant.

ROCK FALLS – A large factory building was evacuated just after noon Thursday when an air handling unit caught fire.

The call came in for a structure fire about 12:10 p.m., when flames could be seen coming from the roof of the IFH Group, 3300 E. Rock Falls Road.

The business manufactures custom-fabricated hydraulic oil reservoirs, fuel tanks, and lubrication storage and handling systems, and employs about 125 people, said its owner, Jim King Jr.

According to the scene commander, after the air handling unit caught fire, the flames extended into the chimney on the roof. The fire was contained to that area, and no injuries were reported.

King said that, thanks to fire extinguishers, the fire was pretty well contained by the time crews arrived on scene, and that it took them only minutes after that to completely douse the flames.

The air handling unit is one of four or five systems the plant uses to pump fresh air into the building, King said, adding that it was the electric motor that caught fire.

“Fortunately, the blower was still working and pumped all of the smoke out of the building,” King said.

King estimated that the factory would miss about an hour and a half of production while it cleaned things up and waited for the smoke to entirely clear from the building.

“We probably did more damage with the fire extinguishers than the fire did,” he said. “All the employees are safe, and that’s the important thing. The fire department responded, and they did their job very well, I really appreciate those guys and, you know, in our business sometimes this happens.”

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