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Firefighters handle blaze at Clorox plant

By Mehgaan Jones

mjones@news-daily.com

Following the evacuation of the facility, as a precaution, firefighters extinguished two fires at the Clorox Products Manufacturing Plant in Forest Park, on Thursday.

"Forest Park Fire Department responded to the fire on Thursday morning, shortly after 9 a.m.," said Deputy Fire Chief Matt Jackson.

"Firefighters were able to extinguish the fire within about an hour and a half," he said.

"Three employees were assessed, and treated on scene, due to minor injuries," said Jackson. "No one was transported to a hospital," he added.

Kathyrn Caulfield, a spokesperson for Clorox, said, in a written statement, that the cause of the fire was still under investigation, but "resulted from the ignition of all-natural pine oil, which is a raw material used in the manufacture of certain Pine-Sol cleaners."

Deputy Chief Jackson said the fire started at a loading dock, while a vehicle was being unloaded. He said the blaze led to two separate fires, one in a storage shed and one in a coolant station.

According to Jackson, the plant was evacuated by the time the fire department had arrived. Occupants of the surrounding businesses were asked to stay inside, to avoid driving through smoke, he said. Authorities closed I-285 at Riverdale Road, and I-75 at Cleveland Avenue and Old Dixie Highway, until about 10:25 a.m., as a precaution, according to Jackson.

"At this time, plant personnel are assessing the impact of the fire and its effect on operations," Caulfield said.

Johnny Stinchcomb, who owns the nearby Big Wrench Truck Repair business, said when he saw Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport fire trucks on the scene, he knew that the fire must be serious. "I did not hear an explosion, but I did see a big, black cloud," he said.

According to a media advisory statement, Hartsfield-Jackson did assist by providing personnel and fire trucks. The fire did not affect operations at the airport, the statement said.

Another local business owner, who did not want to be named, said that authorities did well in blocking and diverting traffic. "When I stepped outside, I thought that it was getting cloudy again, but then I realized that those were not clouds, it was actually smoke," said the owner.

Clorox has operated a manufacturing facility in the Atlanta area since 1946, according to Caulfield. The plant has been at its current site since 1970, and currently employs about 255 people, she said.

"In addition to its namesake bleach and Pine-Sol cleaners, the plant manufactures a number of other Clorox laundry and cleaning products, Formula 409 cleaners, and more."

It is located at 17 Lake Mirror Drive, in Forest Park.