Claremore Daily Progress

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November 19, 2013

Industrial fire at UPCO displaces workers

VERDIGRIS — A large industrial fire overnight at UPCO in Verdigris damaged the plant that manufactures steel rods for the oil industry. 

Firefighters from Verdigris Fire Department were called out to a fire in an industrial building west of Claremore at 3:20 a.m. Tuesday morning.

Workers showed up for the day shift to find the building badly damaged by the blaze.

The office employees were sent to work in Tulsa at a sister company until the further arrangements for operations could be made, according to UPCO officials.

Shop employees will be contacted today with instructions, according to human resource officials.

The fire started sometime after shop workers ended the evening shift Monday about 8:30 p.m.

The blaze required the assistance several local fire departments including Claremore, Rolling Hills and Catoosa after crews determined flammable liquids were fueling the fire, according to Verdigris Fire Chief Mike Shaffer.

The fire is believed to have started in the machine shop located directly below the second floor offices.

Those offices housed some of the company’s essential records including payroll and information technology.

No UPCO employees were in the building at the time of the fire, according to General Manager Tim Dinkleman.

No injuries were reported, according to Shaffer.

The majority of the damage was isolated to the machine shop and office, according to Shaffer.

Water and smoke damage affected the remaining portion of the shop’s main manufacturing area, Shaffer said.

Crews had a difficult time reaching the origin of the fire because the second story floor collapsed, according to Shaffer.

Firefighters worked for more than six hours to completely extinguish the fire.

UPCO manufactures sucker rods for the oilfield industry. Sucker rods are steel rods, usually 25 to 30 feet long, used to connect pump jack machinery to the pump at the bottom of an oil well. 

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