Fire crews battled a blaze at one of the largest employers in the Northeast Kingdom Tuesday night.
The fire at the Ethan Allen furniture plant in Orleans erupted inside two silos.
"When we first arrived on scene we had a working fire -- in the auger that goes from the boiler room to the dust silos," said Asst. Chief Scott Burdick of the Orleans Fire Dept.
An issue with the motor that brings saw dust from the boiler room at the Ethan Allen furniture factory to the silos sparked a flame that within minutes spread to a massive fire, that required hours of work to contain.
"You couldn't see no fire from the outside, or anything. Just a ton of people were watching. You couldn't tell there was a fire you know what I mean?" explained witness Tyler Breault.
Crews from the air and the ground tackled the flames.
"We had an aerial truck set up on each tower -- on each silo. We opened each silo from the top, flooded it from the top. Open the bottom so the water will work its way through and we're just letting it penetrate the sawdust," said Burdick.
Maintenance workers from Ethan Allen say those two silos hold about two and a half 18-wheelers' worth of sawdust.
Front-end loaders will be used through the night to carry the soaking sawdust to the far side of the property and fire crews will stay to make sure nothing that's taken out is at risk of sparking up again.
"That's what maintenance will be working on tonight is digging that sawdust out and we'll be here in case there is any of it burning as they pull it out," said Burdick.
The 400 or so employees at Ethan Allen will be off Wednesday because the furniture plant will not be operating. The silos will be out of commission and maintenance crews will still have to haul all of that sawdust out of there first.
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