A fire in the overhead ductwork at JTEKT Automotive Tennessee temporarily stopped production at the Morristown Airport Industrial District plant this morning, according to Clark Taylor, deputy chief of the Morristown Fire Department.
One employee was treated at the scene for smoke inhalation by the Morristown Emergency Medical System. No firefighters sustained injuries. The production stoppage, which involved 251 JTEKT workers, occurred because firefighters had to conduct air-quality tests, according to Taylor, who says no manufacturing machinery was damaged.
“When it comes to safety, JTEKT is at the top of their game,” the deputy fire chief said. “They evacuated quickly, in a matter of a couple of minutes … I can’t guarantee it, but I think they’ll be back on line today.”
JTEKT manufactures power steering components for automobiles.
There are two theories about how the fire started. One is that “overspray” – motor oil or transmission fluid – got into the ductwork and caught a fan motor on fire. The other is motor oil or transmission fluid accumulated over a long time until it reached a critical point where combustion occurred, according to Taylor.
Firefighters were on the scene in approximately two minutes after the fire was reported at 9:36 a.m. They used a lift and ladders to reach the ductwork, which is positioned about 30 feet off the production floor. Firefighters used carbon dioxide and a dry chemical spray instead of water to extinguish the fire.
The Hamblen County Emergency Management Agency was also on the scene.