October 1, 2014

Elyria
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Foundry fire damage estimate: $5 million to $10 million

Workers sort through items being hauled out of one of the buildings at Elyria Foundry on Sunday. (CT photo by Chuck Humel.)ELYRIA — The Elyria Foundry fire caused an estimated $5 million to $10 million in damage, according to the Fire Department.

The fire was called in around 9:45 p.m. Friday and contained around 5 a.m. Saturday, according to Assistant Fire Chief Tim Mitchell. He said it was extinguished at 5 p.m. Saturday.

James Lawrence, foundry vice president of operations, wouldn’t comment Sunday, but Mitchell said employees told him the rough estimate of damage was between $5 million and $10 million. No one was hurt in the fire, the cause of which remains under investigation.

Mitchell said the fire began in an approximately 600-foot by 700-foot building on the north end of the foundry at 120 Filbert St. The building, which stores molds and patterns for forming liquid metals, is attached to a warehouse, which Mitchell said contained sulfur dioxide tanks.

Firefighters sprayed down the tanks during the fire. Mitchell said firefighters had to wait about two hours before beginning a “surround and drown” attack because of the intensity of the flames and danger of water getting on metals in the foundry furnaces.

“The temperature of the metals is like 2,700 degrees, so if water hits it, it vaporizes it, and it turns into a steam explosion,” he said. “We weren’t going to make an interior attack on that until we could secure the area and figure out what was in there.”

Around 3:30 p.m. Sunday, about a half-dozen workers, some wearing face masks, placed salvaged materials on wooden pallets outside the foundry across from Bullocks Parkway. A security guard stood outside the front entrance and said reporters were not allowed in.

Founded in 1905, the foundry, which makes iron castings used for coal pulverizers and natural gas compression equipment, has had fires in 2006, 2008 and in January, when a worker had his hair singed. After a worker caught his arm in a conveyor last year, the company was fined $35,000 by the Toledo office of the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

OSHA later reduced the fine to $14,000. In February, the foundry agreed to pay a $155,000 air pollution fine from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency for violations that included failing to meet pollution emission limits.

Contact Evan Goodenow at 329-7129 or egoodenow@chroniclet.com.