Fulton Fire Department extinguishes fire at Backer's Potato Chips

Firefighters from the Fulton Fire Department work to put out a fire inside the Backer's Potato Chip plant Tuesday.

Firefighters from the Fulton Fire Department work to put out a fire inside the Backer's Potato Chip plant Tuesday. Photo by Brittany Ruess.

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Fulton Fire Chief Dean Buffington (center) speaks with Kevin Coffelt, assistant fire chief, Tuesday after leaving the Backer's Potato Chip building where a fire started inside.

The Fulton Fire Department responded to a fire at Backer’s Potato Chips at 1 Industrial Drive yesterday.

Bill Metz, Backer’s plant manager, said oil build up clogged a heat exchanger — which filters oil — and caught fire.

The plant has two heat exchangers that pair with two cookers for the potato chips. The heat exchangers, he said, are about the size of a firetruck.

He said an employee immediately noticed the fire. The employee called 911 at 4:14 p.m., according to Callaway County Joint Communications.

Fulton was on scene four minutes later with three pumper firetrucks and one ladder firetruck. Fulton Assistant Fire Chief Kevin Coffelt said the building was “smoke-filled” when firefighters arrived on scene.

Firefighters originally believed the fire possibly reached the roof, Coffelt said, and a firetruck crane lifted two firefighters onto the roof to assess it for any signs of fire extension. The fire did not reach the roof and black smoke was traveling through the venilation system.

Metz said about 10 employees were inside the building “cleaning up” when the fire broke out. Backer’s has about 100 employees and were not at work due to the snow storm.

He added that Backer’s could be out of operation for the rest of the week.

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