An exhaust pipe in a corn mill and refinery is believed to have caused a fire at the Norcross business Friday afternoon. Firefighters responded at 12:28 p.m. to an automatic fire alarm at Olé Mexican Foods, Inc., which is located on Crescent Drive NW in unincorporated Norcross, after the alarm company told dispatch that multiple manual pull stations had been activated, said Justin Wilson, a spokesman for the Gwinnett County Department of Fire and Emergency Services. Several other people called 911 to report a fire on top of the building and smoke coming from the business as well, Wilson said, and on scene, firefighters found the six-story building with heavy smoke coming from the roof.
“Crews quickly deployed a high-rise pack to the fourth floor and connected to the building’s standpipe system,” he said. “The fire pump for the standpipe system was currently operating and the sprinkler system was active. A carbon dioxide extinguishing system also discharged on the fifth floor. Heavy smoke conditions and fire was located on the fourth, fifth and sixth floors.”
Firefighters were able to extinguish the fire on all floors before redirecting to the roof, where the blaze was still active. “Before the fire could breach the affected (exhaust) system, copious amounts of water was applied to extinguish the blaze,” Wilson said. “The fire was contained to metal pipe used in a process to dry corn flakes prior to the refinery process. Crews began ventilating the residual smoke from the building using positive pressure fans.” Wilson said about 60 firefighters were on the scene due to the size and complexity of the incident and later determined that the fire originated on the fourth floor from malfunctioning equipment. He added that the corn flakes in the pipe contributed to the spread of flames inside the machinery. No injuries were reported and the fire was under control within two hours of arrival.