Firefighters likely to be on scene of old Salem China plant for days

SALEM, Ohio (WYTV) – Though you may not see any active flames right now, firefighters say they’ll be battling with the fire at the old Salem China Company plant for days.

Chief Scott Mason and his crew are exhausted, working to put out the flames for more than 24 hours now.

“It’s definitely — it’s stressful. Very physical,” he said.

It started Tuesday afternoon and burned late into the night.

Ten departments responded and people set up camp to watch as embers burst from the building onto the ground below.

On Wednesday, the scene looks different. Smoke covers what used to stand there.

The thick smoke and smolder has filled some of Salem’s neighborhoods but Mason said it’s nothing to worry about.

“The EPA did pretty substantial air monitoring. There was no hazardous materials found in the air. They said it would equate to, basically, a large campfire.”

The building was currently owned by the Church Budget Envelope Company, which used it weekly to store rolls of paper, among other items.

Mason said the problem with fighting the fire now is deep seeded paper burning.

“As it dries back out from all of the water we put on it, it’s gonna reignite.”

When it does, Mason said there will be firefighters there to deal with it right away.

“We have a couple working hand lines. When we find some hot-spots, we’ll extinguish them as we go.”

It’s a dance that the department says won’t be ending anytime soon.

“Could be here another couple days. We’ll try to keep a couple guys here throughout the night to keep an eye on things,” Mason said.

He said there’s too much damage to figure out the cause of the fire so right now, that’s undetermined. The State Fire Marshal is investigating and Mason said they’ll call him back if the cause is deemed suspicious.

The Salem Fire Department is trying to get back into the swing of things as much as it can, putting its fire trucks back into rotation in the city. This fire has disrupted the department’s resources and normal working routine.