Late Afternoon Welding Mishap Forces Tyson Plant Evacuation

A welding accident ignited a conveyor belt fire that resulted in the evacuation of Tyson Fresh Meats  in Waterloo yesterday(Sun) afternoon.

No injuries were reported, and fire officials have now estimated the damage to equipment at $10,000.

The blaze started when workers were welding from a catwalk in the loin cold storage room in the northeast section of the meatpacking plant at 501 N. Elk Run Road shortly after 4 p.m.  Slag from the welding dripped down onto a rubber conveyor belt below, and the belt, which was shut off, began to burn. Workers tried to smother it with welding blankets, but the fire continued and began to send smoke to other parts of the building.

The plant was evacuated, and Waterloo firefighters quickly extinguished the blaze and remained on the scene for about two hours removing smoke.