Fire scorches Nalley Valley business

An industrial two-alarm fire in Tacoma’s Nalley Valley burned for an hour early Saturday and sent two firefighters to the hospital.

At least 10 firetrucks responded to the fire in the 2900 block of South Steele Street. Tacoma fire battalion chief Dave England said the fire was reported just after 8 a.m. and was extinguished shortly after 9 a.m.

The fire sent smoke pouring into the valley and over state Route 16. The building where it broke out belongs to Ultra Poly Inc., a division of Polymer Industries, an Alabama-based company that manufactures plastics.

England said the fire was confined to about 600 square feet of the business.

“It’s not a total loss,” England said.

He said two firefighters were sent to a hospital for precautionary checks, but their injuries were not expected to be serious. They were later released, he said.

Fire investigators were working to determine the cause, England said. “A significant amount of oil” was flushed from the scene as the firefighters doused the blaze, and some of it entered the Thea Foss Waterway, he said. The Environmental Protection Agency was at the scene.

John Pethick, operations manager for Ultra Poly Inc., said he is grateful fire crews arrived so swiftly.

“I’m glad that none of my employees are injured and the fire department guys are OK,” Pethick said.

About 85 people work at the business, which operates 24 hours a day in two buildings. The area that caught fire includes two hydraulic press lines, where about 25 people work.

The company manufactures a resin into sheets of ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene. Among the products the business produces are piling protectors, which guard pilings from ferry landings.

Pethick said he expects some areas of the business to reopen early next week.

Derrick Nunnally: 253-597-8693, @dcnunnally

Kate Martin: 253-597-8542, @KateReports

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