Sparks ig­nite co­coa residue in Cen­tralia cake-mix fac­tory

Belleville News-Democrat (Sunday) - - Stay Connected - BY KAVAHN MAN­SOURI kman­[email protected]

A South­ern Illi­nois cake mix fa­cil­ity caught fire Satur­day morn­ing af­ter sparks from mal­func­tion­ing util­i­ties ig­nited co­coa residue.

At 8:55 a.m. the Cen­tralia Fire De­part­ment re­sponded to a fire call at Con Agra, for­merly Pinnacle Foods, a man­u­fac­tur­ing fa­cil­ity that makes Dun­can Hines cake frost­ing and mixes lo­cated at 100 Calumet St.

The fire started af­ter an elec­tric fan in the build­ing shorted out, shoot­ing sparks down­ward onto co­coa residue-cov­ered rafters and other sur­faces, ig­nit­ing small fires and cre­at­ing large amounts of smoke, Cen­tralia Fire Cap­tain Michael Cal­abrese said. The small fires and smoke took roughly 2 and a half hours to clear out.

Cal­abrese said co­coa beans, pow­der and residue can ig­nite quickly with some­thing as small as a spark. The fires that fol­low, he said, can be nasty.

All of the de­part­ment’s shifts, ex­tra men and the Cen­tralia Fire As­sis­tant District, the area’s vol­un­teer fire ser­vice, were called in to as­sist with the fire.

Cal­abrese said the build­ing wasn’t se­ri­ously dam­aged and should be back in op­er­a­tion af­ter some cleanup. He said it isn’t the first time the de­part­ment has had to put out a co­coa fire.

“Co­coa ig­nites so quickly. It’s just like pow­der,” he said.

Ac­cord­ing to the Oc­cu­pa­tional Safety and Health Ad­min­is­tra­tion, when co­coa beans and pow­der are pro­cessed they cre­ate a resider called com­bustible dust. This makes fires with co­coa beans es­pe­cially danger­ous be­cause con­cen­trated dust can cause larger ex­plo­sions. Kavahn Man­souri: 618-239-2507, Kavahn Man­souri

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