CHEEKTOWAGA – Two fork trucks caught fire inside the Pepsi distribution warehouse at 2710 Walden Avenue around 7 am Monday morning according to the Forks Fire Department.
Forks Fire Chief Tom Brennan tells Cheektowaga Chronicle that it appears the fire broke out while an employee inside the warehouse was trying to start one of the propane-fueled fork trucks.
“He couldn’t get it started, and he was going to get a mechanic when another employee on a fork truck pulled up next to him and tried to assist him,” Mr. Brennan said. “Apparently in the process of trying to assist him, the one fork truck caught fire and quickly spread to the second fork truck.”
He says it’s unusual for a fork truck to catch fire.
“It’s not too often that we have fork trucks go up – very rarely in fact – this was the first time in a long time that I could remember.”
A general alarm of fire was dispatched to the warehouse immediately after the call for help came into Cheektowaga Public Safety dispatchers. Forks firefighters were assisted by U-Crest, Rescue, Hy-View, and Twin District as the incident’s rapid intervention team.
“The guys got in and used a couple 1-3/4″ handlines. One was off of the U-Crest engine, and the other was off of the Forks engine, and they extinguished the fire to the point where they could shut the gas off to the propane tanks and that pretty much mitigated the extent of the fire.”
A plan to use a fire hydrant near the rear of the building and across Dick Road was not needed.
The mammoth building was ventilated by crews the best they could. Pepsi managers were told to leave the warehouse garage doors open to fully ventilated the smoke out.
All of the employees made it out of the building, and no one was hurt according to Mr. Brennan. He says around 10-12 people were outside the immediate area at the time of the fire but did not have a complete headcount at the time of our interview.
A voicemail left with a local Pepsi representative was not immediately returned.
According to a 2002 Business First article, the Cheektowaga plant, manufactures, processes, or distributes an estimated 9 million bottles of soft drinks annually and handles the distribution of 360 varieties of product ranging from Pepsi to Dr. Pepper to Lipton Ice Tea to Ocean Spray.
Bellevue firefighters were called to protect Forks’ fire district while crews were busy working the scene.
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