Fire crews from four towns responded to reports of a structure fire about 7:15 a.m. at RWS Manufacturing, 22 Ferguson Lane. The blaze extended from an outside conveyor that moved wood shavings to an inside storage facility, Kingsbury Fire Chief Butch Chase said. “Something may have malfunctioned,” he said.
RWS — which makes animal bedding from wood shavings for Quebec-based Royal Wood Shavings — said in July it would shut down if it is not successful in appealing $197,820 in fines from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration. OSHA claims the plant is exposing its employees to “potential fire and explosion hazards.”
RWS was operating when the fire started. Staff had safely evacuated the building and started to suppress the fire with hose lines when firefighters arrived, Chase said. The buildings’ sprinkler system stayed on as the fire crews extinguished the blaze.
The Queensbury plant, which operates in the Warren-Washington County Industrial Park, was cited for 28 violations in 2013 and fined more than $233,000 for workplace safety violations related to fire, fall and explosion risk. Two of those violations were deemed as “willful,” meaning the company ignored federal safety rules.
“RWS Manufacturing has disregarded its employees’ safety in failing to correct an obvious fire and explosion hazard and in allowing the existence of new and recurring hazards,” said Robert Garvey, OSHA’s area director in Albany in a July press release. “Especially disturbing is the fact that, since OSHA’s last inspection, a significant fire occurred in the plant’s production area in December 2015.”