Production is shut down from Saturday evening until Monday morning, during which time there is no one on the premises. There is also very little activity around the plant on weekends (location in an industrial zone). Most of the electrical facilities remain turned on and in operation during production down-time (refrigeration units, programmed controllers, battery chargers, etc.).
On a Sunday, at around 2:30 p.m., passers-by noticed smoke coming out of the North side of the building (maintenance shop, employees’ lounge, clean equipment storage room) and immediately sounded the alarm.
The fire department showed up at the site a few minutes later. The manager of the cleaning company, who also happened to be passing by, opened the entrance gate.
In addition, a strong wind facilitated the fire spreading to the rest of the building in a Northeast/Southwest direction. In total, some 50 firemen were called in to fight the fire, using 6 major hose lines, 2 of them on ladder trucks. Despite this massive operation, the plant was totally