Norfolk, NE – Sprinkler system activated for warehouse fire; No injuries reported

Crews responded to the scene of a reported fire inside the MP Global building in northern Norfolk at about 1:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Two rigs from the Norfolk Fire Division initially responded to the scene off of Riverside Boulevard before mutual aid from Hadar Fire & Rescue, Hoskins/Woodland Park and Battle Creek Fire & Rescue were brought in.

The fire started in the southern, warehouse half of the building and was caused by a hot piece of metal inside grinder material, said Capt. Lannce Grothe with the Norfolk Fire Division. Firefighters entered the business from the west side.

Several employees could be seen standing in the building’s west lawn while crews worked the scene. Nobody was injured and all employees had evacuated the building by the time crews had arrived, Grothe said.

No structural damage was done to the building, Grothe said, but the fire caused about $20,000 in damage to equipment.

MP Global’s water sprinkler system and carbon dioxide sprinkler system contained the fire, Grothe said, preventing a far worse outcome. Initial reports led fire crews to believe that they had a much bigger fire on their hands, he said.

“We wanted to call in mutual aid with the possibility of a big fire,” Grothe said. “And, on a hot day like this, you want to have all the manpower you can.”

MP Global employs about 140 people across its two Norfolk plants and 85 at the Riverside Boulevard location where the fire occurred, said Al Collison, owner and chief executive officer.

“I was in shock at first. We have protocol that, when something like this happens, everybody evacuates the building, our systems respond to the fire and then the fire department takes over,” Collison said. “They all got out right away, so everyone is safe.”

About 25 employees were inside the building when the fire started, Collison said.

“It’s a shock; your biggest worry is making sure people are out,” he said.

As of about 3:15 p.m. Wednesday, crews remained on scene and were working to ventilate the building. MP Global, which operates 24 hours a day, was expected to be operating again by 6 a.m. Thursday, Collison said.

The Madison County Sheriff’s Office and Norfolk Police Division also responded to the scene.

MP Global is a cardboard liner company that had to recover from a major fire in 2005 that Collison, the founder of MP Global, said proved to be “the most challenging period of my life.”

Damage was estimated at between $5 million and $6 million. With a stack of orders, Collison said in a 2005 Daily News story that he had to immediately find a site where production could continue almost seamlessly. Within two days of the fire, Collison located a factory in Mexico City, Mexico. Production was moved to Mexico for six months until the Norfolk facility reopened, Collison said.