Fire at Chemical Processing Plant in Williamsport

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WILLIAMSPORT -- Fire crews are looking for the cause of an early morning fire at a chemical processing plant in the Newberry section of Williamsport.

Emergency management officials put out a warning around 6 a.m. Sunday instructing residents near Lonza Inc. to close their windows and doors because of the smoke.

People in the area said the smoke could be seen for miles around.

"I didn't see a lot of flames, just a lot of thick black smoke," Carl Toti said.

Site manager Marvin Kuvo told Newswatch 16 that the fire started in the Esters area of the plant. This portion of the building is where crews mix fats and oils to make specialty chemicals.

Firefighters said despite the warning that was put out, no chemicals were released into the air.

"If anyone in the general public did see the column of smoke, that was just general roof material that was burning off at the time. It had no chemical release whatsoever," platoon chief Vince Rundio said.

One firefighter was treated for minor injuries at the scene.

Company leaders said the 14 employees who were working at the time made it out safely.

Kuvo said that employees working inside were able to start putting out the fire before firefighters arrived on scene.

Lonza Inc. trains its employees to act as an emergency response brigade when needed.

Kuvo said the plant has 140 employees.

A damage assessment has not been done yet.

Kuvo said that employees should still show up to work for their regular shifts.

The cause of this fire remains under investigation.