Six-alarm fire at General Electric's Appliance Park contained but storage building lost to flames

04/03/2015 05:06 PM

A massive, six-alarm fire at General Electric’s Appliance Park has been contained, but not before causing “extensive damage” to the warehouse and office building Friday, according to company and emergency officials.

The blaze erupted around 7 a.m. Friday, and Kevin Tyler, president of the Jefferson County Fire Chiefs Association, said crews will continue to battle the fire into Saturday. Some employees were inside the facility that largely warehoused plastic material when the fire started, but Tyler said no one was injured.

About 200 firefighters converged on the engulfed building, he said, describing the fire-ravaged facility as a “total loss.” City officials said hydrochloric acid gas had been detected at the site, but Tyler said firefighters had not been impacted, even without additional protective gear.

GE, in a statement, said fewer employees reported to work because of a Good Friday holiday.

The company said the blaze has been contained to the storage building, and GE has found alternate workspace for affected employees, “several hundred” of whom had offices in the decimated facility.

“All production has been cancelled for the balance of today and through next week to replenish the production parts housed in building 6 and to conduct a thorough evaluation of all other buildings,” GE said in a statement.

“We do not anticipate any immediate disruption for customers. We appreciate the concern and support we’ve received from across the community.”

Tyler, speaking with reporters as rain drizzled, said lightning likely sparked the blaze.

While some might expect that Friday’s periodic downpours helped firefighters extinguish the flames, Tyler said that wasn’t the case.

“A lot of people think, ‘Well it’s raining, it’ll help suppress the fire,’ but it’s not,” he said. “All it does is hamper our conditions that we have. It keeps the smoke down and the visibility goes down outside the building.”

Despite Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer’s plea to the public to avoid the area, dozens of spectators couldn’t resist watching the blaze along Poplar Level Road.

Laura Corson, a truck driver who made deliveries at the toppled building, was floored when she saw the destruction in person.

“It’s not good because we can’t get in there,” she said. “No money, no loads. We make a lot of money driving trucks and now, nope.”


Subscribe to email updates.

Subscribe and get the latest political intelligence delivered to your inbox.