Lebanon Fire Chief Chris Dowell said the building was in flames and billowing smoke when initial firefighters arrived on scene. Dowell said the LFD had nearly 20 firefighters and personnel on the scene.
The probable cause of the fire, Dowell said, was an old computer battery that was left inside a laptop.
“I think they (the batteries) are supposed to be removed before they come in,” Dowell said, pointing out that was the word he received from the Omni manager.
Omni Recovery is a global recycling service company with five locations in the United States. The fire chief said the branch in Lebanon recycled computers for Dell and other plastic materials.
Dowell said the manager indicated the laptop battery caused the fire in some way, but they still were not sure how exactly the fire began. He said the fire started in the center of the building and the large amount of cardboard and plastics inside caused the flames to spread quickly.
“There’s plastic burning in there right now, and that can be difficult to deal with,” Dowell said.
Multiple fire engines worked at all sides of the building with firefighters staying outside of the structure after one received care for smoke inhalation upon arriving and entering the burning facility.
Dowell said “he tried to do too much, too fast” and the firefighter received care from emergency personnel who were also on the scene and made a full recovery. As for the Omni employees, 12 were indoors at the time of the fire and all managed to leave the building safely.
“When we arrived everyone was already standing outside,” Dowell said, referring to the employees.
The building’s main entrance on the north side was collapsed as the roof caved in on the northeast corner during the blaze. The walls of the building’s upper half are made of metal as the lower half is made of concrete.
Dowell said there was a car inside that could pose a problem for entering the building and fighting the fire, but no other machinery was expected to pose any additional dangers for firefighters.
He also indicated that an incident with computer batteries occurred a few weeks ago at the same location. The Omni manager declined to give his name or comment on the situation.
Staff Writer Patrick Hall may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.