DOWAGIAC, Mi. - Six fire departments responded to a fire at Ameriwood Industries' furniture manufacturing plant in Dowagiac, Michigan last Sunday.
 
The fire, believed to have been sparked by sawdust in the plant's auger system, was extinguished after three hours. 
 
“The fire is believed to have started due to an explosion in the boiler feed auger system,” Dowagiac Director of Public Safety Steven Grinnewald said in a press release quoted by television news station WSBT. “This system feeds stored sawdust to a burner which is part of a boiler heating system. Damage to this area included large overhead doors and walls damaged from the explosion.”
 
Exact damages to the plant are still being assessed. No injuries occurred. Sunday's third shift and Monday's first shift were canceled. 
 
OSHA defines combustible dust as “fine particles that present an explosion hazard when suspended in the air, in certain conditions.” For a combustible dust explosion to occur, five factors must be present: fuel (combustible dust), ignition (heat or spark), oxygen (air), dispersion (dust suspension) and confinement. Removal of any one element will eliminate the possibility of occurrence.
 
Jamison Scott, executive VP of Air Handling Systems and longtime WMMA supporter, breaks down what agencies are involved in monitoring wood dust in more detail.

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