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Fire hits Gage plant

A fire at Gage Industries in Lake Oswego was quickly extinguished at the plastics-molding facility but not before causing damage to a machine and some products, estimated at $1.5 million by the fire department.

The company, located on McEwan Road, produces plastic products used to package food and nursery stock. Gage Industries also manufactures sheet plastics and some truck parts.

Fire broke out at the company about noon Tuesday when a hydraulic hose on a machine used to mold plastics sprayed oil on an oven designed to preheat the plastic. More than 200 workers at the Lake Oswego facility were evacuated, 45 of them from the production area. No one was injured.

'I really credit the sprinkler system for containing (the fire). There was just a small amount of fire that the sprinkler system didn't get to, that was under the machine,' said Gert Zoutendijk, deputy fire marshal of Lake Oswego Fire Department. 'The sprinkler system did some water damage but in essence it saved their company.'

Bill Pattison, chief financial officer at Gage, said the company was operating normally again Wednesday. He said sprinklers in the roughly 50,000-square-foot building are designed to produce a lot of water.

'It doesn't happen very often but obviously you have to be very careful because anytime you heat up plastic … you obviously have a product that can become flammable very easily,' Pattison said. 'Fortunately all of our safety procedures worked.'

Zoutendijk said damage estimates account for replacement of the damaged machine at about $750,000, water and smoke damage to an adjacent machine, lost productivity and damage to some products.