Pulp and Paper Plant Fire

Risk Logic Inc. (RLI) is a consulting engineering company that provides Loss Prevention Services. Since 1997, we have been working in regions all over the world utilizing the most advanced and current standards.

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November 9th, 2022

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

A large fire started on October 6th at a pulp and paper plant and an adjacent warehouse. Even with aggressive control efforts, the fire continued to burn for two weeks. The fire was in Menominee, a small city on Michigan’s border near Wisconsin. The warehouse was filled with bales of scrap paper and pulp rising more than 10 feet high. 

On the first day of the fire, the flames swept through the building and firefighters lost visibility. The focus quickly transitioned to protecting other portions of the industrial complex. On October 7th, Menominee County declared a local state of emergency.

Despite local efforts, Menominee required additional state support and resources to combat the fire and provide technical assistance. After seven days, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer declared a state of emergency for Menominee County, allowing additional resources and funding.

“Through this emergency declaration, we are dedicating every available resource to fire suppression efforts, environmental protection, and financial assistance for the local response.”

Menominee Fire Chief Mark Peterson said fire crews have worked 12-hour days for two weeks. The fire officially went out on Friday October 14th.

Extensive damage leaves 420,000 ft2 of the 560,000 ft2 building destroyed, including the portion of the facility that housed Resolute Forest Products. This facility employs over 100 people.

Risk Logic’s report on Paper Making Fire Hazards describes fire exposures from incoming wood to the storage of finished products.  One exposure is combustible dust. Dust Hazard Analysis guidelines can be found in National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Fire Code 1 Section 40.5

Ensuring that pulp and paper storage warehouses and process equipment are adequately protected requires a detailed engineering evaluation to understand the hazards and limiting factors where specific site recommendations are needed. Actions can be taken to reduce or eliminate a large loss potential. Please contact Risk Logic if you would like such a review for your pulp and paper plant or warehouse.