April 19, 2014

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7. Fire causes millions of damage at Republic Steel

The Republic electric arc furnace in Lorain, shown here under construction in August, was fired up Nov. 25 for a test run. CHRONICLE FILE PHOTO

The Republic electric arc furnace in Lorain, shown here under construction in August, was fired up Nov. 25 for a test run. CHRONICLE FILE PHOTO

A Nov. 30 fire at the Republic Steel plant caused millions of damage, according to the Lorain Fire Department.

Republic officials haven’t said exactly how much damage occurred at the plant where a new electric arc furnace was being tested and was about to go operational. The furnace is at the center of an approximately $85 million upgrade at the plant designed to create 450 jobs.

Republic, which is receiving about $5 million in state tax breaks and $5.9 million in Lorain tax breaks, was behind schedule on the project. They had initially hoped to have the furnace operational by August. Republic hasn’t said how long the fire will delay the project.

The fire occurred in the building that houses the 50-foot high, 150-ton furnace and occurred during testing of the furnace known as “hot commissioning.” The preliminary cause of the fire was an oxygen line to the furnace that ruptured, according to the department. The rupture created a “blowtorch” effect on the fire.