Fire Destroys GE Storage Facility at GE Louisville Appliance Park
Fire destroyed a massive storage building at General Electric Co.'sAppliance Park complex in Louisville, Ky., Friday morning, generating thick clouds of black smoke and causing local officials to order nearby residents to stay inside.
No one was injured in the fire, a GE spokeswoman said. The fire consumed Building Six at Appliance Park, which was used for warehousing. GE has evacuated the entire Appliance Park complex and is working on contingency plans to minimize disruption to the company's production schedule, a GE spokesman said.
The fire, which reached more than six alarms, has been confined but not yet fully under control shortly before 1 p.m., said Capt. Salvador Melendez, a spokesman for the Louisville Fire Department. More than 200 firefighters were on the scene where they were expected to remain at least through the remainder of the day, Capt. Melendez said.
There was limited information about what was fueling the fire and heavy smoke, but Capt. Melendez said the building was believed to be storing plastics, as well as offices that had been fully engulfed by flame.
The Louisville Department of Health and Wellness enacted a "shelter in place" order to cover homes and businesses within a two-mile radius of the fire, telling residents to stay inside. The reason for the order was because of low- lying smoke, spokeswoman Kathy Harrison said. The department is also monitoring air quality in the area, she said.
GE also leased offices and storage space there to a tenant, Derby Industries LLC.
Derby Industries officials couldn't immediately be reached for comment and Louisville emergency-management officials haven't said what had caused the fire.
The extent of the damage was still being calculated Friday morning, GE said. Local news video showed segments of the massive warehouse structure collapsing as it was consumed by the fire.
GE is one of the largest appliance makers for the U.S. home market, behind leader Whirlpool Corp. Last year, GE's Appliances & Lighting unit reported $431 million in profit on sales of $8.4 billion in its Appliances & Lighting division, the vast majority of which came from appliances.
GE had about 12,000 workers in its appliance business overall last year, with about half that number working at Appliance Park.
Friday's fire struck as GE is preparing to part with Appliance Park, the massive manufacturing park it built in the middle of the 20th century to manufacture home appliances, such as dishwashers and refrigerators. It was a business GE had been in since first introducing an electric toaster in 1905.
GE is pulling out of the appliance business altogether. The company agreed last year to sell those operations to Sweden-based Electrolux AB for $3.3 billion.