The cleanup process has begun and an investigation into the cause of the late Wednesday fire that devastated part of Anchor Glass.
The fire broke out shortly before 9 p.m. in the hot machine shop of the plant. “It’s not uncommon for something to get overheated and get extinguished quickly,” said Henryetta police chief Steve Norman. “This fire got out of control fast.”
He said there were 75 people working at the plant when the fire happened. “They went into evacuation plan and started shutting down equipment,” he said. By 11 p.m., the fire was said to have been contained or extinguished in over 90 percent of the plant fire
Henryetta fire personnel were on the scene first and quickly received aid from Dewar, Schulter and other area fire departments.
Norman said all of the employees have been accounted for and no victims were transported by EMS.
Residents north of the glass plant were not evacuated but law enforcement personnel urged them to remain indoors.
Some witnesses who had just left El Charro’s restaurant south of the plant, said they first saw a small plume of smoke then a large ball of fire erupted. They said they could feel the heat from the fireball.
Within minutes the entire upper structure of the plant was blazing. That fire caused traffic to be backed up along US 75 as people either stopped to take photos or slowed down to watch.
Norman said that caused officers to close down access to the highway. Bollinger Street that runs in front of the glass plant was shut down with only residents and glass plant officials allowed to enter.
He said Anchor Glass officials are currently looking over the damage. “They said we could possibly have a few shops open and running in a couple of days.”
The glass plant came to Henryetta in 1929 and opened for business in 1930 as Pittsburg Plate Glass. Since then it has gone through several owners including Midland Glass, Ardaugh and now Anchor. The plant makes beverage bottles that are distributed across the United States.
“This is an intregal part of the city,” Norman said. “If we lose Anchor it would devastate Henryetta.”