Fire at Jacksonville Reynolds Plant Looked Worse From the Outside

By Jeremy Coumbes on December 7, 2023 at 5:36pm

No one was injured when fire broke out in a Jacksonville manufacturing plant Wednesday afternoon.

The Jacksonville Fire Department responded to the Reynolds Consumer Products east plant located at 2226 East Morton Avenue for a report of an active structure fire at approximately 3:15 on Wednesday afternoon.

Smoke could be seen rising from the west side of the building when fire crews arrived. Jacksonville Fire Department Chief Matt Summers says however, the incident looked worse than it turned out to be.

When they arrived on scene some of the staff had already partially extinguished the fire with dry chemical extinguishers causing a lot of dry chemical to be in the air which also looked like smoke on their arrival, and added to the appearance of the situation being worse than it was.

Captain Hopper and his crew did a great job of getting to work very quickly and deploying a ladder company to the roof to check for extension [of the fire] up there and make sure the roof wasn’t burning. They pulled an inch and three-quarter line immediately to the fire floor and extinguished the fire which was in building fifty-four through the big roll-up door on the west side entrance.”

Summers says crews were led to a blower system that was actively burning in an upper area of the production area. “They did a good job of getting in there and up to the mezzanine level where there was an air handler that ventilates and pulls particles out of the air for the workers.

My understanding is that the unit had sucked up some of the contents or materials used to make bags and ignited inside the ventilation system causing a fire and smoke in that system. They guys were able to open that system up and finish extinguishing the fire from there.”

During a subsequent investigation after the fire was extinguished, it was determined that a ventilation flex hose used to vent the smoke from the seal bar of a bag machine ignited causing flames to travel through the system which ignited the interior of the vent pipe and blower.

According to the report, the fire on the bag machine itself was extinguished by employees with a dry chemical extinguisher prior to the fire department’s arrival.

The South Jacksonville Fire Department responded to the scene as mutual aid. Assistance was also provided by the Jacksonville Police Department, LifeStar EMS, and Ameren Illinois.

No injuries were reported and smoke and dry chemical extinguisher vapors were ventilated before employees were allowed to reenter the building. Crews were on the scene for approximately 90 minutes.