The November 8 blaze apparently was caused by an electrical fault in a piece of drying equipment in the flexible die production area. According to published reports, the fire was spotted by an employee who had arrived for the night shift. More than 150 firefighters from several area towns fought the fire and the smoke throughout the night and into the following day. In the hours immediately following the fire, access to the plant was extremely limited because of the presence of hazardous materials inside. Certain processes in die manufacture make use of acids and other compounds, and apparently some drums of chemicals had melted in the heat and their contents combined on the floor.
No one was injured in the fire.
Production at the plant was immediately shifted to Gerhardt’s UK plant. Within 30 minutes of the fire being reported, The British plant made an electronic transfer of all production data from the US operation. Gerhardt is a global company with production facilities around the world, and manufacturing was able to continue without major interruptions in delivery of dies.
“The re-opening of Gerhardt’s production in the United States will definitely raise the bar when it comes to making flexible dies,” says Ian Bates, president and CEO of Gerhardt USA. “Our competitors will be hard pressed to be able to match our quality, delivery time or price.”