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JBS fire investigation closed

By Staff | Feb 2, 2017

LAST WEEKEND, a giant fireball and smoke erupted from the JBS methane lagoon in the 800 block of East Marion Street. Streets in a several block radius were blocked off as the Marshalltown Fire Department fought the blaze.

MARSHALLTOWN – Marshalltown fire investigators said they believe they know what caused a giant fire that damaged the JBS Processing Plaint’s methane retention lagoon last weekend that caused $500,000 damage.

The Marshalltown Fire Department’s found that on the morning of Jan. 21, JBS staff ignited a pressure relief torch in the methane retention system to burn off excess gas that had accumulated.

In a press release, the MFD noted that some debris had accumulated within the burner area of the torch and ignited. Aided by the wind, officials said, the embers dropped down and ignited methane gas that was venting around the manhole cover to the influent water system to the lagoon.

“The fire is believed to have burned along the border of the manhole cover, then igniting an overflow hose leading to the top membrane of the lagoon system.

Once compromised, methane gas began leaking through the membrane covering causing ignition of the gas,” the release stated.

The lagoon is located across the street from JBS’ main production facility. Firefighters battled the blaze, which took roughly three hours to extinguish, using water from attack hose lines and elevated master streams.

A giant fire ball with plumes of thick, black smoke could be seen rising from the lagoon before personnel got the fire under control.

The MFD said its investigation complete, the fire has been classified as unintentional.

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