An early-morning explosion at a local biotechnology firm left the 7,500 square foot plant temporarily uninhabitable, but without injuries.
Fire Chief Donald Patnoude of the responding Southwest Fire District said Wednesday a 1,000-gallon vertical tank used for purifying water at Biodyne USA, at Ferguson and Bluffton roads, apparently failed.
Debris from Wednesday's explosion was reported about 6:30 a.m., Patnoude said, when employees from a neighboring business found roofing, insulation and two-by-fours on their property.
“It (the explosion) blew off the roof and partially imploded part of the room,” Patnoude said.
Southwest crews immediately entered the building. Firefighters searched the building, shut off power and gas and turned the investigation over to the state fire marshal, Patnoude said.
The ruptured tank that sits inside the building heats the water to 212 degrees and then cools it in a two-day process. A large pressure lid on the top of the tank apparently failed, Patnoude said.
An identical tank next to the damaged tank was working properly, Patnoude said.
Biodyne co-owner Tim Weir said the damage was confined to Biodyne's production area and occurred due to a leak in the tank's valve.
The valve will be tested, said Weir, vice president of operations.
“Safety measures failed. We are working with the tech manufacturer to resolve this,” Weir said. “We anticipate the Fort Wayne location being operational in a couple of weeks.”