A fire started during the manufacturing process swept through a carpet padding plant in Norfolk, Neb. on Wednesday and left the 50,000 square foot facility in ruins. None of the 25 people working at Midwest Padding when the blaze erupted were injured but the fire reportedly caused about $5 million in damage.
"The good news is no one was hurt but the factory is a complete loss," said the company's director of sales, Jack Boesch, who spoke from a neighboring business using a cell phone. "We use a high heat process in our manufacturing. Occasionally a spark will flare up but our fire suppression system usually catches it. I guess this time it didn't."
Firefighters from Norfolk and three other nearby towns responded to the blaze at 2500 Old Hadar Road and reported seeing flames shoot 30 feet into the air. Because of the nature of the material burning, including bales of raw material used in the manufacturer of carpet padding, authorities allowed the fire to burn itself out.
"There was not a lot they could do," said Boesch. "It would be like pouring water on burning bales of hay. They would just smolder."
He noted that office space adjoining the plant was largely spared by the blaze but still had smoke and water damage. A company warehouse in a separate area was undamaged by the fire. Using the inventory in the warehouse and producing product at Midwest's other manufacturing facilities, the company will not suffer a major interruption in business, Boesch said. He added that the company employs about 100 people in Norfolk.
Boesch noted that carpet padding was one of several products offered by the company which also produces underlayer for laminate flooring.
"Our people are okay and most of the inventory is okay, so I guess we are very lucky," said Boesch.
He said he has heard from a number of customers who called to offer their support. He said he assured them the company will bounce back. "We are down but not out," he said.