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Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Hudson’s Omni Components cleaning up, returning to work after Monday blaze

HUDSON – Things gradually were returning to normal Tuesday at Omni Components Corp., the precision metal-engineering firm on River Road that filled with heavy, acrid smoke after a machine caught fire Monday.

Fire investigator Steve Dube said the machine operator and company “followed the correct safety procedure” in dealing with the fire, which broke out at 5:15 and forced second-shift employees to head for the exits. ...

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HUDSON – Things gradually were returning to normal Tuesday at Omni Components Corp., the precision metal-engineering firm on River Road that filled with heavy, acrid smoke after a machine caught fire Monday.

Fire investigator Steve Dube said the machine operator and company “followed the correct safety procedure” in dealing with the fire, which broke out at 5:15 and forced second-shift employees to head for the exits.

A receptionist answered the phone at the 46 River Road firm Tuesday, but a message left with another company representative wasn’t immediately returned. There were some cars in the parking lot, indicating at least some employees returned to work.

Dube said late Monday night that the building had been turned over to the occupants and a representative of the owner, which he identified as J.K.S. Realty/Stellos Family Investment Properties.

As he watched from the front lawn of the 83,000-square-foot building with other employees Monday, Jim Barker likened the smoke’s sudden arrival to something out of 1930s mid-America.

“It was heavy smoke; it looked like a dust storm coming,” Barker said. “The alarm went off. The bell went off, and it was ‘let’s go, let’s get out of here.’ ”

Dube said the operator of the machine, which he described as a lathe, promptly notified his co-workers after discovering the fire, then used a portable fire extinguisher that initially appeared to quell the flames.

“He thought the fire was completely out,” Dube said, until he saw flames coming from underneath the machine. By then, he said, the fire had reached the electrostatic air cleaning unit, which also burst into flames.

A company official called to report the fire at the same time the alarm from the building’s master box was received, Dube said.

Lt. Everett Chaput of Engine 4, the first engine to arrive, reported heavy black smoke coming from open bay doors and called for a second alarm, Dube said. The Engine 4 crew “advanced a hose line to the seat of the fire,” he added, where they found the sprinkler system operating and confirmed that a metal lathe was ablaze.

The second-alarm call brought all Hudson vehicles and firefighters to the scene, as well as Nashua’s Engine 3 and Tower 1; engines from Litchfield and Pelham and Dracut, Mass.; and a Tyngsborough, Mass., ladder truck.

Also responding were Windham’s Rapid Intervention Team and Nashua’s hazmat team, for the decontamination process, along with the Salvation Army of Greater Nashua’s Emergency Disaster Services van.

By late Monday, Dube said, a cleaning crew had arrived to assess what was needed as firefighters completed their decontamination process, which was initiated because oil and other hazardous materials were involved in the fire.

Also needing proper disposal were oil-catching booms and clean-up pads used to soak up residual oil that came from the burning machine. Dube said other machines near the one that caught fire suffered water damage, and the electrostatic air cleaner system was shut down in that area pending inspection.

Officials returned Tuesday to “work with the tenant and the tenant’s insurance company to get to the cause” of the fire, Dube said. While the exact cause remained undetermined, he said it is not suspicious in origin.

Dean Shalhoup can be reached at 594-6443 or dshalhoup@nashuatelegraph.com. Also follow Shalhoup on Twitter (@Telegraph_DeanS).