PHOTOS: Metal dust fire at Viktor Technologies brings area departments to Benning Street in West Lebanon

More smoke than fire damage to the plasma torch manufacturing facility

WEST LEBANON, NH - A smoky first-alarm fire broke out over the noon hour in the duct work near the ceiling of the Viktor Technologies manufacturing plant which sits out behind the Shaw's Supermarket complex in West Lebanon roughly between the Powerhouse Mall and Interstate 89.

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    Lebanon firefighters were alerted first by the "box alarm" at Viktor Technologies which shares the sprawling metal-clad buildings that make up the 82 Benning Street industrial complex with five other businesses, including Hanover Moving & Storage.

Firefighters douse the burnt filter units after hauling them outside.

    When the first engines arrived on the scene they spotted smoke coming from the eaves in the back of the complex and immediately radioed for a first alarm to be struck which brought the neighboring Hanover and Hartford, Vermont fire departments to the scene while Enfield Fire sent engines to cover Lebanon's stations.

    Although the situation was quickly brought under control, Lebanon crews remained on the scene for two-and-a-half hours ejecting the acrid smoke and conducting an investigation which Chief Chris Christopoulos said determined that the fire began in a series of large paper filters that were exposed to hot metal dust particles from a portable metal dust collector.

    "The fire was contained to the equipment but the entire building suffered heavy smoke damage," Christopolous noted.

The dust collection unit where the fire began (Lebanon Fire Department photo)

    Christopolous added that Thursday's fire in the metal dust collection system was the third such one he's battled in the same building since he became Lebanon's fire chief 16 years ago; although, he noted that the last incident was several years ago and may have predated Viktor Technologies purchase of the facility.

    Viktor is owned by ESAB, a Swedish multi-national, and it does metal cutting as part of its plasma torch manufacturing operation in West Lebanon.

    Christopolous said the tendency for the equipment to catch fire over and over "appears to be just generally a housekeeping thing on their end.  We will definitely have a conversation with them about how we can lessen the likelihood of it happening again," the chief noted.

A couple of dozen Viktor Technologies employees evacuated to the surrounding parking lots

The filters continued to smolder and burn for quite some time.

The Joint Chiefs: Lebanon Fire Chief Chris Christopolous (left) consults with Hanover Chief Martin McMillan and Hartford Chief Scott Cooney

A Viktor Technologies manager assisted firefighters with information about the dust collection system

Vermont News can be contacted at vermontnews802@gmail.com

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