Update: Fire near Casper burns 8 million pounds of plastic pipe [Video]

2014-03-27T12:15:00Z 2014-03-27T17:56:07Z Update: Fire near Casper burns 8 million pounds of plastic pipe [Video]By the Star-Tribune staff Casper Star-Tribune Online
March 27, 2014 12:15 pm  • 

An early morning fire burned about 8 million pounds of plastic pipe and caused an estimated $8 to $10 million in damage at WL Plastics west of Casper, but did not cause injuries, public safety officials said this morning.

The cause of the fire is unknown and the subject of an open investigation led by the Natrona County Sheriff’s Office, according to Sgt. Mike Steinberg.

Area fire departments responded to a blaze just after midnight. WL Plastics employees called in the fire, said Natrona County Fire Chief Richard Ratcliff.

Rocky Mountain Power officials shut off the overhead power lines about an hour later, and fire crews were then able to effectively fight the fire.

That's about how long it takes for an on-call person to arrive on site at that time of the night, said company spokesman Dave Eskelsen.

The blaze was under control by 5 a.m., Ratcliff said.

Steinberg said the investigation, which will aim to identify the source of the fire, could last days.

“It was a big fire,” Steinberg said. “It may take quite a while to get through everything.”

As of 8:30 a.m., crews continued to spray water on piles of crumpled, charred pipe and the stench of burnt plastic still hung heavy in the air. The fire took place in a lot where pipe was stored. It consumed several power poles, but no structures were damaged in the blaze, authorities said.

The fire knocked out power to nearly 770 Rocky Mountain Power customers, though it’s since been restored to all but four, Eskelsen said. It also forced the closure of a couple adjacent businesses due to safety risks, said Lt. Stewart Anderson, Natrona County emergency management coordinator.

Ratcliff said a code red advisory was issued urging those in nearby structures to stay put. That advisory has since been lifted.

"The smoke column was our biggest concern because of the carcinogens," Ratcliff said. "Fortunately, for the most part, it went straight up in the air."

Steinberg said he doesn’t believe there are any ongoing health concerns for the public related to the fire.

WL Plastics is located at 2075 N. Pyrite Road in Mills off Wyoming Highway 20/26. It manufactures high-density polyethylene pipe and related products for the oil, gas, mining, industrial and municipal water markets.

The company could not be immediately reached.

The road immediately in front of WL Plastics is closed, Anderson said, but U.S. Highway 20/26 is open to traffic.

The Natrona County Fire Protection District, Bar Nunn Fire Department, Mills Fire Department and Casper Fire Department responded to the blaze. The Natrona County Health Department, Department of Environmental Quality and the Natrona County Emergency Management also responded.

Copyright 2015 Casper Star-Tribune Online. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(12) Comments

  1. James68
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    James68 - March 28, 2014 12:08 pm
    I am kind of noticing that
  2. James68
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    James68 - March 28, 2014 12:07 pm
    This plant was built in an industrial area in or around 2000. Do some research
  3. James68
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    James68 - March 28, 2014 12:07 pm
    Wow, do you make this up as you go along? This is not a mixed area, it is an industrial area. Take a drive around town once in a while or do some research before you make your foolish comments
  4. thehousemouse
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    thehousemouse - March 27, 2014 6:31 pm
    buy the way what happen to the industrial park ( the rail park) mcmurry ville two? rent to high? gee we paid a lot for the infrastructure and its pulling in dittly for the 9 million in investment of tax payers dollars. or did you forget about that?
  5. thehousemouse
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    thehousemouse - March 27, 2014 6:28 pm
    awww, do you boys make lots of money on development? or do you love the MIXED use area plan? this is what mixed area plans do. "it makes fires in neighborhoods that burn down from accidents. "you little smart boys. " look at places that have no planning. you will find. industries in one area a long ways from town. because things happen. you'll find actual neighborhoods that are full of robust families and not some pub up the street/ with liquor store and strip joint. that's what brings down a neighborhood. make fun of me if you will but at 65 and from Chicago, I know your full of smoke and only looking to make money for yourselves or investors.
  6. IdrahaJe
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    IdrahaJe - March 27, 2014 5:30 pm
    Thanks James.

    btw: talking to housemouse is like clapping with one hand
  7. Square
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    Square - March 27, 2014 4:45 pm
  8. WhatTha
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    WhatTha - March 27, 2014 12:13 pm
    This comment needs to be stricken for its intellectual quality.
  9. James68
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    James68 - March 27, 2014 11:54 am
    @ IdrahaJe, I think you will see the final figures come in more around 2-4 mil pounds (still a lot). I have been in that yard before and that would be a closer guess for the area that burned.

    @ Housemouse, I believe you will see this was arson, that pipe wont burn until it reaches temps around 650 deg, so it is a relatively safe product to manufacture and store. Yes the smoke is dangerous but so is any smoke from any large fire.
  10. thehousemouse
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    thehousemouse - March 27, 2014 11:27 am
    wonder if anyone ever thought that's why all these kinds of facilities are always located at the edge of towns and not in side city limits? by rivers or potential flood areas? perhaps it times to look again at the resolutions and zoning areas?
  11. IdrahaJe
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    IdrahaJe - March 27, 2014 10:15 am
    8,000,000 pounds? That's around 200 truckloads, that's a lot of pipe. How on earth, it will be interesting to see the results from the investigation.
  12. Campbell
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    Campbell - March 27, 2014 10:08 am
    I bet that was stanky! Glad no one was injured! Thanks to our NC firefighters for responding and getting this thing under control!
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