Fire Officials Believe Plant Fire Accidental

By: Auburn Hutton Email
By: Auburn Hutton Email

Fire investigators say this weekend's fire at the Reno Rendering Company appears to be accidental, but they still can't pinpoint what started it.

The flames destroyed a building, injured a firefighter, and delayed the Reno Rodeo.

Fire officials say it doesn't look like arson...but the exact cause of the fire still remains a mystery. Neighbors we spoke with who live near the rendering plant say the building itself...and what goes on there...is the real mystery in question.

The rendering plant sits tucked away on Wells Avenue, behind houses and a field full of farm animals...as it has since 1921. Neighbors who live nearby on Winston Street say until the plant ignited Saturday, they hardly noticed it was there.

"Because you never see anybody out there and it's suspicious. You just see meat trucks and nobody there, really," said Aubrey Markham.

They say the most prominent feature of the plant is it's smell, which neighbors described as a fleshy odor that comes and goes periodically.

"I do smell weird things sometimes, even besides the fire, like I have smelled them slaughtering cows and stuff," said Scott Ohm.

The plant manager, Ryan Koewler told us the facility is a recycling company for grease and animal parts, collected from local restaurants and stored in these large tanks. He said workers use extreme heat to turn animal carcasses into things like soap and candles...a process called "rendering..." but when we asked local fire officials what goes on at the plant, their answer didn't correlate.

"The materials are stored there and then later transferred to a rendering facility. The facility itself here has not been used for rendering for sometime," said Steve Frady of the Reno Fire Department.

That wasn't the only statement about the plant that didn't add up. The manager told us there was no one on property when the fire started, but fire officials say there were two people on scene...even though the plant is normally closed on Saturdays.

"The investigation remains open for the time being, but right now, fire investigators are unable to pinpoint the exact cause of the fire," said Frady.

The real question here is why the facility calls itself the Reno Rendering Company, but according to fire officials, they're not rendering anything. The investigation is still open, but fire investigators are not looking into the nature of the company, only to the cause of Saturday's blaze.


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