April 16, 2014

Elyria
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Fire leads to layoffs at Elyria Foundry

The aftermath of Friday night’s fire at Elyria Foundry is seen Monday. (CT photo by Bruce Bishop.)

ELYRIA — An unknown number of employees at Elyria Foundry have been laid off following a massive fire that ripped through several buildings in the complex.

Flames licked toward the sky Friday evening into Saturday morning, smoke billowed from charred buildings and a day after the blaze was extinguished, fire officials estimated damages to be as much as $10 million.

President and CEO Bruce Smith, who has spoken largely through prepared releases since the fire, issued a statement Monday saying a temporary shutdown was taking place at the plant as a direct result of the fire.

“Although Elyria Foundry has not yet been able to fully evaluate the extent of the damage caused by Friday night’s fire, it has become apparent that operations in the part of the facility where the fire occurred will have to be shutdown temporarily,” the statement said. “Due to the temporary shutdown, we have unfortunately been forced to lay off a number of associates.”

Affected workers will have continued health insurance benefits, and Elyria Foundry pledged to help expedite unemployment benefits for employees. Smith did not provide the number of employees who were laid off.

“We are also working diligently to rebuild operations so our associates can return to work as soon as possible,” Smith’s statement said. “In the end, we — as a team — will overcome the challenges presented by the fire and become stronger and better than before.”

Safety Service Director Mary Siwierka said she believes there are upward of 300 employees at the foundry.

Elyria Assistant Safety-Service Director Dan Jaykel said Elyria firefighters should be credited for their hard work during the fire. They were mindful of the financial implications losing all of the equipment would have on production, Jaykel said. Founded in 1905, the foundry makes iron castings used for coal pulverizers for electric power generation.

“I don’t know the extent of the damages. I don’t know what it will take to replace the equipment, but firefighters saved some furnaces and molds that were critical to operations,” he said.

Jaykel said the foundry still has some operations going on, but he doesn’t know what or how much.

Assistant Fire Chief Tim 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.

Fire officials have not determined a cause of the fire. The Elyria Fire Prevention Bureau is pegged with that job, but in a large facility like the foundry it may take some time, especially after pieces of roof collapsed, making it difficult for investigators to process the scene.

Contact Lisa Roberson at 329-7121 or lroberson@chroniclet.com.