A biodiesel facility’s safety plan worked after a massive blaze broke out when four 10,000-gallon tanks of biodiesel caught fire at Viesel Fuel Wednesday.
Fire investigators were back at the scene Thursday one day after the Stuart, FL, biodiesel facility caught fire. The smell of vegetable oil was still in the air while representatives from the state fire marshal’s office canvassed the area in search of clues as to the cause of the fire.
At one point the fire was contained, but following two explosions it flared up again after 2 p.m. Wednesday.
“A manhole cover was sent flying hundreds of yards,” Martin County Sheriff William Snyder said. Black smoke was billowing into the sky.
Just before 6 p.m. the Martin County Sheriff’s Office said the fire was once again under control.
Martin County Bureau Chief of Rescue Daniel Harshburger said four 10,000-gallon tanks of biodiesel caught fire at Viesel Fuel. Power to the area ended up shut down as a precaution, he said.
“Got heat sensors going off in certain areas of the building. Right now, it also spread to the methanol tank that was adjacent to those four ten thousand biodiesel tanks, so right now we got methanol and biodiesel burning,” Chief Harshburger said.
Fire crews used dirt to build a berm around the perimeter of the fire to contain the flames.
The Martin County School District sent this message to parents of Port Salerno Elementary Extended Day and Chorus Students:
“Due to a fire in the area, we are taking safety precautions and have evacuated your children to Pinewood Elementary. All students are safe. There is no access to Port Salerno Elementary School at this time. The situation may affect traffic to and from our schools in this area. We are asking that you report directly to Pinewood Elementary located off of Willoughby Boulevard.”
According to the company, Viesel Fuel has pioneered the enzyme technology to produce biodiesel from a variety of inexpensive, high FFA feedstocks. On its website it said it services KFC, Mulligans, FAU, IRCC, and American Airlines Arena to name a few.
The sheriff’s office said there were no injuries and everyone at the plant and surrounding businesses ended up accounted for.
The following is a statement by Stu Lamb, Viesel Fuel LLC:
“First and foremost, we at Viesel Fuel want to thank Martin County Fire Rescue for their swift action, along with all emergency responders who assisted them.
“The combination of Fire Rescue’s efforts, our fire suppression system, and the quick action by Viesel’s employees according to our safety plan worked. There were no injuries, adjacent businesses were notified immediately and the fire was contained.
“We greatly appreciate the understanding and support of our commerce park neighbors whose business day was interrupted during the fire and thank those who have reached out to us.
“In the coming days, we plan to work closely with fire officials to identify and address the cause of the fire.”