Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Action Floors looks to resume production after fire


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MERCER, Wis. — Work is expected to resume at Action Floor Systems today after the company halted production for a day following a fire Monday at its Mercer facility.

Company president Tom Abendroth said the company made the decision as a precaution and much of the work should be able to proceed as normal.

“We made choice not to run production today and just made sure we went through everything and everything was in good, working order,” Abendroth told the Daily Globe Tuesday.

Iron County Dispatch received the first reports of the fire at the facility just south of Mercer on U.S. 51 at approximately 2:36 p.m. Monday. Several local fire departments — including the Mercer, Oma and Sherman-Springstead departments — responded to the fire, with the Mercer department clearing the scene at approximately 6 p.m.

No one was hurt in the fire, although at least one trailer on site was damaged and parts of a building were damaged in the effort to fight the fire.

Abendroth said the fire occurred in an area of the facility away from the main plant where vehicles are loaded with sawdust and other production waste that is then sold.

“We took every precaution necessary to make sure it wasn’t spreading back through the dust collection system (to the rest of the facility),” Abendroth said.

He explained the company utilizes all the wood over the course of its production process, with the waste generated going to two places.

“We either burn it ourselves to generate the steam to run our kilns — we heat the plant, we heat the office all with our own waste. And then the excess … we sell to companies that then further process that material,” he said.

Although there are safety measures in place, Abendroth said it appears a spark from an unknown source got into the dust collection system and ignited the sawdust.

“Anytime you’re dealing with sawdust, that stuff can be pretty volatile … that’s why we have all the systems and the safety items in play in our dust collection (system),” he said.

Although much of the plant’s operations will resume as normal, Abendroth said the company will need to monitor the waste produced.

“We’ll have everything running tomorrow, we’ll just monitor our waste levels and adjust the production as that dictates,” he said, adding it may be a little longer before the parts of the operation directly impacted by the fire are fully operational again.

Action Floors employs approximately 90 people — both at the Mercer facility and as salespeople elsewhere.