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Fire forces evacuation at GM


Bill Barrett photo Seven departments responded to a fire at the GM plant in Wentzville Friday night.

Fire forces evacuation at GM

By Raymond Castile

A three-alarm fire forced the evacuation of 250 people at the General Motors plant in Wentzville on Friday night. No one was injured.

The fire started just after 6 p.m. in the basement on the plant’s south side, Wentzville Fire Protection District Chief Randy Bornhop said Friday on the scene. The fire was located in an underground area where the cars are painted, he said. The fire activated the sprinkler system, he said.

The third alarm was sounded because of the size of the building, not the size of the fire, Bornhop said.

"Any time you have smoke and fire in a plant this size, to evacuate the smoke and evacuate the people, you always have a third alarm," Bornhop said.

Bornhop said seven departments responded – Wentzville, Wright City, Central County Fire and Rescue, Lincoln County, New Melle, O’Fallon and Lake Saint Louis.

Firefighters arrived at 6:10 p.m. to find an active fire in the basement, he said. They had the fire under control by 8 p.m.

Plant manager John Dansby, who was on the scene, said the plant was operating on a four-day work week, so no shift was scheduled Friday night. But 250 people were working on maintenance, Dansby said. All 250 were safely evacuated, Bornhop said.

Dansby said the fire started in duct work for an exhaust fan. Bornhop and Dansby said Friday they did not know what started the fire or how much damage it caused.

"The important thing is that everybody got out," Dansby said.

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