A Dutch Harbor seafood processing plant was severely damaged by an explosion Monday evening a public safety official said was likely caused by the ignition of fine fish-meal dust, though the incident remained under investigation Wednesday.
Mike Holman, director of Unalaska’s Department of Public Safety, said the blast — first reported by public radio station KUCB — occurred inside the Westward Seafoods plant on Captains Bay Road at about 6:45 p.m. Monday. Thirteen members of the department responded.
There were employees inside the building at the time of the explosion, but no injuries were reported. Westward Seafoods President Mark Johanson confirmed employees were in the facility, which he described as mostly “one large open space,” but were thankfully uninjured.
Holman said no foul play is currently suspected in the blast, which is also being investigated by the state fire marshal. The plant’s sprinkler system extinguished the resulting fire before crews arrived but contributed to damage estimates well beyond the $100,000 first reported after the fire.
Johanson said one pollock season was wrapping up and the fish-meal plant isn’t needed in any current fishery openings. The company was optimistic the plant will be fully operational in time for another pollock season in January, he said.