Fire forces evacuation at Budweiser plant

MERRIMACK – A fire inside a piece of machinery at the Anheuser-Busch plant in Merrimack forced an employee evacuation Monday afternoon.

The fire department was called just after 3:30 p.m. when a cardboard compactor and bailer caught fire, according to Merrimack fire Lt. Ron Hansen.

Hansen said the plant has a conveyor system that runs throughout the complex where cardboard can be dumped and carried to a room where it is compacted and then packaged before being shipped off site.

Investigators believe cardboard became jammed in the machine and caused motors to overheat and eventually catch fire, Hansen said.

Employees were evacuated and firefighters called to the Daniel Webster Highway plant when fire alarms and sprinklers went off, he said. When fire crews arrived, they encountered heavy smoke in the bailer room and smoke pouring out of overhead doors at the back of the facility, Hansen said.

“Visibility was not good. The room was pumped with smoke,” he said. “It was quite a mess.”

Crews eventually made their way into the room and were able to extinguish the fire, containing it to the machinery itself, Hansen said. Crews cleared the scene shortly after 5 p.m.

The Nashua Fire Department assisted at the scene, he said.

No one was injured and damage to the building was minimal, according to John Mills, the plant’s manager.

Beer production wasn’t affected and employees returned to work later Monday evening. The cause of the fire is still under investigation, he said.