KINGSBURY -- For the second time in six months, flames shot from a smokestack at wood chip maker RWS Manufacturing, this time accompanied by a pressure blast that scattered soot 500 feet away onto surrounding vehicles.
Officials said a conveyer that transports wood shavings to a dryer sparked, creating a fire in the hopper, or smokestack. When fire crews arrived sometime after 4:30 p.m., heavy smoke and flames were visible at the top of the tall stack, said Kingsbury Fire Chief Jim Brunelle Jr.
The business on Ferguson Lane in the Airport Industrial Park has had at least three other fires in recent years, including one in the spring that destroyed the smokestack, according to the fire department.
In that incident, sparks from welding activity ignited sawdust and caught on fire in the hopper. Some embers also ignited sawdust on the roof of the adjacent warehouse.
This time around, Brunelle likened the cause to a chimney fire, in which creosote build-up ignites and pressure builds.
The pressure on Tuesday burst a piece of metal from the top of the smokestack, and blasted soot onto cars at least 500 feet away.
"It's not malfunctioning parts as much as it is build-up," Brunelle said of the cause. "There should be a cleaning process."
He said Kingsbury's code enforcement office has been notified.
In addition to fire concerns, the industrial park's owner has battled with the company to resolve noise and smoke issues.
The Warren-Washington Counties Industrial Development Agency has been fielding complaints for the last two years from neighboring residents and businesses.
Some have even said the plant noise got louder after the spring fire, when the smokestack was replaced.
The fire risk at RWS was also cited during a Kingsbury Planning Board hearing last year on whether to allow a propane company to build a fuel depot on adjacent land. The board rejected the plans, pointing in part to safety concerns about RWS Manufacturing operating next door.
On Tuesday, about 1,000 gallons of water were used to extinguish the blaze. Water was shot into the stack, and likely damaged a motor below, Brunelle said.
It was unclear the extent of the damage or cost to repair it. There were no injuries reported.
Firefighters from the Kingsbury, South Queensbury, West Fort Ann, Bay Ridge and Fort Ann fire departments, as well as the Fort Edward rescue squad, responded. The Hudson Falls and Fort Edward fire departments were placed on standby.