The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

November 16, 2011

Fire at area munitions plant destroys building; no injuries

By Tom Davidson
Herald Staff Writer

GREENE TOWNSHIP — A machine touched off a spark that caused a fire Tuesday morning at a munitions factory near Jamestown.

But the blaze was contained to a single building where smoke bombs are made and safety procedures worked the way they’re supposed to, according to Don Smith, CEO of Combined Systems Inc., Greene Township.

“The important thing is everyone’s safe,” Smith said, as firefighters from 14 departments worked to extinguish “hot spots” about 9:30 a.m. after the actual fire was out.

Jamestown Fire Chief Mike Cadman said the fire was accidental. It destroyed the building, one of several on the grounds where the company makes tear gas canisters, flash bang grenades and smoke bombs used by law enforcement and government officials around the world to quiet unruly mobs.

“I’m just very grateful that our safety procedures worked flawlessly,” Smith. “That is my first concern, the safety of everyone.”

About 170 people were working at the time, and less than 10 were in the building at the time. They made it to safety, Smith said.

The building was equipped with a sprinkler system, but the blaze was too much for it, Cadman said.

“The local fire departments did a fantastic job of working with us,” Smith said.

Jamestown firefighters were assisted by ones from Kinsman, Greenville, Hempfield, West Salem, Transfer, North Shenango, Conneaut Lake, Conneaut Lake Park, East Fallowfield, South Pymatuning, Sandy Lake, Stoneboro and Sheakleyville.

The large response was needed to shuttle water to the scene, Cadman said.

“This one wasn’t (a fire) where we needed to evacuate,” Cadman said.

There have been a couple fires at the plant in the last ten years or so, including at least one that prompted officials to evacuate neighbors in the area because of noxious fumes.