Details emerge on fire at Pueblo railway tie factory


The Pueblo Fire Department provided new details about the industrial fire at the Rocla railway sleeper factory south of Pueblo on October 12.

The Department was alerted to an explosion at the manufacturing plant at around 10:35 a.m. that morning and there was an active fire when fire crews arrived, according to Pueblo Fire Captain Woody Percival.

The 39 factory workers were evacuated and found shortly after the fire started.

“There was no rescue to do, we just went into full fire fighting mode when we got to the scene,” Percival said on Oct. 13.

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The cause of the fire was initially not known, but firefighters later learned that an employee at the facility was working with a cutting torch and accidentally set some kind of petroleum product on fire in the warehouse, Percival said.

The employee closest to the blast was taken to a local hospital with unknown injuries and has since been taken to a Denver hospital for treatment.

The fire did not occur in the main manufacturing building, but in a 12,000 square foot attachment to the side of the structure that contained materials packed in cardboard, plastic and wood crates, this which Percival said made controlling the blaze difficult.

Eventually, fire crews used heavy equipment to remove flammable objects from the building to control the blaze, but almost everything else inside the building was lost, Percival said. The roof will also likely need to be repaired or replaced due to the exposure to the flames.

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“The good news is that it did not extend into the main part of the building or into the offices which were both adjacent to the storage areas,” he said.

The Rocla plant is located on Lime Road east of Stem Beach along Interstate 25. The facility is owned and operated by Vossloh North America, which acquired Rocla Concrete Tie, Inc. in 2017.

Contact Chieftain reporter Lacey Latch at [email protected] or on social media @laceylatch.

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