DES MOINES, Iowa — Since a massive explosion and fire destroyed an Iowa warehouse, and loading dock last Monday, chemical supplier Barton Solvents is focusing on recovery.
The fire took local firefighters 11 hours to contain last week, and debris was still smoldering several days later. A preliminary review indicates that static electricity sparked an explosion of ethyl acetate, which has an extremely low flashpoint. Barton’s Valley Center, Kan., fire earlier this year is thought to have been ignited by a drycleaning solvent.
“For the past 24 hours, we’ve focused on employee and public safety, containing the fire, air and water quality monitoring, and, of course, getting our offices operational,” Barton Solvents president David Casten said Thursday.
“Everyone — from the incident command team to our employees, to the fire, emergency, law enforcement and technical crews — has been just great,” he said. “We really appreciate their expertise and fast action that prevented any serious injury. The important thing is that everyone is all right.”
Company offices reopened Oct. 31, and most of the company’s 24 employees returned to work, Casten added. “We have a great team of employees who are working hard to ensure that our customers experience no disruption in their services.”
While the fire’s impact on soil and water is expected to be minimal, Barton has secured two companies to conduct ongoing monitoring and oversee remediation. The company’s cleanup activity following the July fire in Kansas has been insufficient, some residents say.
“We’ll continue to monitor it over the next few days to ensure safety and integrity of the site,” Casten said. “We’ll also continue to test water and soil all the way through the review and cleanup process.”
Based in Des Moines, Barton Solvents is a wholesale distributor of solvents and related products. Barton Solvents serves 13 Midwestern states from six locations in Iowa, Kansas and Wisconsin.