November 26, 2014

Elyria
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No one is hurt in mill fire at Republic

LORAIN – A spilled vat of molten steel triggered a large fire at the Lorain steel mill Sunday, tying up 20 firefighters for at least three hours.

CARL SULLENBERGER/CHRONICLE
A Lorain Fire Department pumper truck refills prior to going back into the mill Sunday night to fight a blaze at Republic Engineered Products.

Firefighters were called to the western half of Republic Engineered Products before 7 p.m., when a large vat holding about 260 tons of molten steel malfunctioned and spilled its contents, said an employee at the plant, who asked not to be identified.

The employee said he was on the third floor of the steel mill when a turret that spins the vat malfunctioned and caused the vat to start turning on its own. The vat, located on the third floor, tipped and spilled the liquid steel onto the third, second and first floors.

“It started spraying molten steel everywhere,” the employee said. “It was like a volcanic reaction, pouring everywhere.”

The spilled liquid steel caught everything on fire – including the concrete – and the employees quickly evacuated, the employee said.

“We have a good evacuation plan,” the man said. “That`s the first time I ever saw that happen, but we all knew exactly what to do.”

Firefighters said they arrived to find a large fire working through that area of the steel mill. The area was difficult to access with hoses and much of the attack was made from a ladder truck.

While details on the blaze weren`t immediately available because firefighters were still on scene late Sunday, it took at least 20 Lorain firefighters to battle the fire.

No one was reported injured, and there were no additional fire departments called to provide mutual aid, firefighters said.
Contact Shawn Foucher at 653-6255 or sfoucher@chroniclet.com.