Processor Smolders After Weeklong Warm-Up

By: Jim Rosenberg Unattended for more than a week, a plate processor with its power left on was discovered to be the source of smoke Sunday at the Ashland (Ore.) Daily Tidings. The smoldering machine never caused a fire, according to the local fire chief.

Eight days earlier, the six-day, 5,000-circulation evening Todings had transferred production to another Ottaway newspaper, the seven-day, 30,278-circulation morning Mail Tribune, in nearby Medford.

The Mail Tribune reported damage was estimated between $5,000 and $7,000 at the smaller daily, which the Dow Jones & Co. subsidiary acquired from Lee Enterprises in late 2002.

The paper was closed for business and a cleaning crew elsewhere in the building was reported unharmed.

Stopping by to pick up some files, Distribution Supervisor Ann Williams noticed the smoke and alerted Ashland Fire and Rescue at 6:15 p.m.

Classified ad rep Andrea Hughes told E&P that the last day the processor had been used was Jan. 8 -- "the last day we printed here."

"It appeared the machine had been left on and ... the heating units were operating, Fire Chief Keith Woodley said Thursday. "It appeared to be an oversight -- not deliberate."

Woodley said damage was confined to the processor and was unlikely to have spread to other equipment if undiscovered because was it was "too iffy that it would result in a fire."


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