By Bonnie Culverhouse
Clement Industries personnel took care of their own when a fire broke out Thursday afternoon in one of their paint booth areas.
According to District 10 Fire Chief Daniel Davidson, City of Minden Fire Department was dispatched as automatic mutual aid when they received the call around 3:25 p.m. Then fire districts representing Sibley, Dixie Inn and Dubberly arrived on scene, all requested for manpower and water.
Davidson said they were met by Clement President Greg Leong.
“He said they had done an emergency accountability during the evacuation and done a follow-up thorough head count,” Davidson said. “They ensured everyone was accounted for and safe. Most employee personnel were sent home afterward.”
When firefighters arrived, they were reportedly met with heavy black smoke from the metal building, however, Davidson said the fire was quickly “knocked down” and contained to a paint booth area and a break room that shared a common wall with the paint booth.
“Fire crews continued fighting, having to cut into metal walls to access fire that had extended into them,” Davidson said.
According to eyewitnesses, the fire began in the down-draft ventilation system of the paint booth. Leong said that fans pull fumes downward and then through channels in the wall and out the roof.
“Clement employees used fire extinguishers to attempt to put out the fire but were not able to,” Davidson said. “So, they began evacuation procedures.”
Pafford EMS was requested as standby only and to provide rehab if needed, the fire chief said.
“There were no injuries sustained for Clement employees or fire department personnel,” he said.
Five trailers were reportedly in the building at the time of the fire. Davidson said it appears that at least two trailers are a complete loss. The other three were affected by smoke, but it is unknown at this time if they were physically damaged by the fire.
Davidson said the building that housed the paint booth suffered severe damage to the exterior wall and roof area directly around the paint booth. The adjacent break room was completely destroyed.
“I am very thankful for not only our firefighters, but our neighboring departments for their assistance during this large event,” Davidson said. “The quick action of these men and women prevented the damage from being any worse.”
Highway 371, south of Interstate 20, was closed to one lane during the fire. Minden Police and the Webster Parish Sheriff’s deputies assisted with traffic control. Davidson said all units cleared the scene by 5:20 p.m.
Clement Industries has been building trailers since 1950.
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