It was a freakish, just-one-of-those-things event: During scheduled maintenance inside a spiral freezer at Tyson Foods’ Pine Bluff, Ark., plant in February, a spark from a welding torch ignited the conveyor belt and fed a blaze that shut down production the following day.
Freakish, perhaps, but not especially unusual. In December 2009, a flaming piece of tortilla bread discharged from an oven at the Moncton, New Brunswick, bakery of Fancy Pokket Corp., igniting a plastic conveyor belt. Damage was inconsequential compared to the previous year’s Easter Sunday blaze that destroyed the Cargill Value Added Meats facility in Booneville, Ark. The 150,000-sq.-ft. plant, valued at $100 million, never produced again, idling 800 workers. A burning conveyor belt leading to a spiral freezer was the fire’s source.
Yet another food plant fire involving a plastic belt was highlighted in a loss-prevention publication from FM Global, a Johnston, R.I., insurance underwriter.