Snap-On returns to operation after fire

By Thomas Wilson


   An Elizabethton manufacturing plant was operating on schedule Tuesday after a fire in the exhaust system forced the evacuation of plant employees on Monday.
   "We are back in operations," said Gary Oldenburg, plant manager of Snap-On Tools where fire broke out shortly after 3 p.m. "We were just shut down for the remainder of the second shift last night."
   Oldenburg said the plant restored power and the third shift resumed operations at 11 p.m. Monday.
   "We had an exhaust vent with an accumulation of things that caught fire," said Oldenburg. "While the fire was quite minimal, there was an awful lot of smoke in the building."
   Oldenburg said the ventilation system where the fire occurred was not in operation and the company was planning to replace that portion of the system.
   The Snap-On Elizabethton plant has 252 employees on three shifts, he said.
   Oldenburg said that when one sprinkler of the plant's sprinkler system had activated, the water came down into the facility's electrical switch gear room. The switches were tripped and received water damage, forcing the plant to cut main electrical power.
   The plant subsequently went through a manual shutdown of the furnace system as a result of cutting the power.
   He also said the plant did employ an emergency action plan to evacuate employees as quickly as possible.
   EFD Fire Marshal Barry Carrier stated Monday that he had conducted an inspection of the plant within the past year and found the alarm and sprinkler systems were working properly.
   Oldenburg confirmed that one employee was transported to Sycamore Shoals Hospital with minor smoke inhalation, but had returned to work on Monday evening.
   The plant is a division of Snap-On, Inc., an S&P 500 company that employs over 14,000 workers worldwide.