Treating oven fire at DPI

ALPENA – Around 5:15 p.m. Tuesday the Alpena Fire Department responded to a fire in one of the treating ovens at Decorative Panels International. The blaze started when the supression system in the oven malfunctioned and failed to control the fire, allowing it to get out of control.

“The damage was just in the one oven, which is a major piece of their operation here,” Fire Chief Bill Forbush said. “There was a secondary fire in another area that was contained by the supression system. We got it under control.”

Alpena Township Fire Department was called to assist at the scene.

“On any working fire in the city we call all of our off duty personnel back, and in this particular case because the facility is so large and there was more than one fire for a while, we felt it appropriate to call Alpena Township as well,” Forbush said. “They sent two units, eight personel.”

The township fire department was called to provide additional firefighters if needed, and to backfill firefighter positions if a few of the city firefighters had to go on an ambulance call. Having them at the scene is very important, Forbush said.

“Obviously there is a lot that can burn at DPI,” he said. “It’s a major concern for us. It’s all wood products. There’s an awful lot of sawdust and wood.”

The oven that started on fire was used to heat treat material, and is one that makes the “Abitibi smell” so often noticed in Alpena.

“They have a number of ovens, but that’s one of their big ovens, and it’s going to be a hardship on the business not to be able to operate that one for a while,” Forbush said. “Really the only thing to be concerned about is their ability to operate their business at this point. We’re concerned about that because they’re a major part of the industrial base in the community and we want them to thrive and prosper.”

The section that burned is a large wing of the plant on the far left of the main office toward the road. Alpena Fire Department cleared the scene at around 8:15 p.m.

Nicole Grulke can be reached via email at or by phone at 358-5687. Follow Nicole on Twitter @ng_alpenanews.