ELYRIA — The cause of a fire at the Elyria Foundry Co., is under investigation.
Firefighters remained at the foundry late Wednesday extinguishing hot spots, according to radio transmissions. The fire was called in about 4:15 p.m. Wednesday by an off-duty firefighter driving by the plant at 120 Filbert St., off Gateway Boulevard, according to Fire Chief Rich Benton. Benton said the firefighter spotted smoke from the plant, which was closed for Christmas, and called the Fire Department shortly before plant personnel called 911.
Benton and Henry Lee, Foundry chief operating officer, said no one was hurt in the fire. Lee, reached by phone after the fire, said damage was minimal, but didn’t have a cost estimate. The plant is closed until Jan. 6.
Benton said the fire may have started around a conveyor belt that hauls sand for molds. Lee said the belt is in an approximately 100,000-square foot building called the South Foundry — on the south side of Filbert — that houses six furnaces. The 30-acre plant, founded in 1905, makes iron castings from 50 to 10,000 pounds. They are primarily used for natural gas compression equipment and coal pulverizers for electrical generation.
At 6 p.m. Wednesday, Elyria firefighters, assisted by Carlisle Township and Lorain firefighters, appeared to have the fire contained. Several firefighters manning a hose entered the South Foundry where flames were visible inside. About 30 yards west, a firefighter with a hose on his right shoulder climbed an approximately 15-foot ladder and sprayed water through a window into the roughly 70-foot high building.
Benton said firefighters had to stay out of the building until Columbia Gas workers could shut off natural gas to lines about 40 feet high on the three-story building just before 6 p.m. Because the foundry furnaces were off, firefighters didn’t have to worry about water getting on the furnaces and causing an explosion.
Firefighters are familiar with the foundry. A fire in November 2012 caused between $5 million and $10 million in damage, according to the department. An explosion and fire in January 2012, caused non-life threatening injuries to a worker.