Clearing the air: Firefighters find new smoke solution

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Frank Schultz
January 20, 2015

JANESVILLE—Janesville firefighters came up with a novel solution to a big problem after they responded to a fire at a business Tuesday morning.

The problem was how to clear smoke from a 525,000-square-foot warehouse-type building.

Firefighters carry powerful fans, but even using several of those fans would have taken a long time to clear smoke from Universal Recycling Technologies, said Shift Commander Scott Morovits.

One fire department lieutenant had heard of another county using a large fan on a trailer to clear large buildings, and then fire Lt. Ron Sagen suggested using the Rock County Sheriff's Office's airboat, which is propelled by a large fan, Morovits said.

“It reduced the time on scene significantly. We have good-sized fans, but in comparison to an airboat, they are not very big,” Morovits said.

Firefighters were called to the electronics recycler at 2535 Beloit Ave. at 8:10 a.m. An electronics compactor had caught fire.

Company officials theorized that a lithium battery got into the machine accidentally, which happens occasionally, Morovits said.

Workers emptied 16 fire extinguishers onto the fire and believed it was out, but it flared up as firefighters investigated, Morovits said.

Firefighters doused the fire with water after the electricity was turned off. No one was injured.

Damage to the $30,000 machine is estimated at $5,000, Morovits said.

Beloit Avenue was closed for a time. Workers evacuated. No other businesses were directly affected.

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