Firefighters battle blaze at factory
By Terry Oparka
Posted January 30, 2013
Molten metal ignited a two-alarm blaze that caused an explosion at a large industrial plant on Meijer Drive at 5:45 pm. Jan. 21.
When firefighters arrived at the Sulzer Metco facility, all employees had already evacuated. Troy fire Lt. Chuck Riesterer said the fire involved a propane-powered hi-lo.
“A fuel cell on the hi-lo caused an explosion and a large amount of structural damage to the building,” Riesterer said.
According to reports, shortly after firefighters arrived on the scene the propane cylinder ruptured, releasing contents and igniting, creating an explosion that dislodged metal sheeting on the exterior of the building. Firefighters extinguished the fire and shut down all industrial processes inside the building.
Forty-seven firefighters were on the scene for an hour and 20 minutes.
The Sulzer Metco website states the company produces materials and equipment to coat and enhance surfaces and develops machining processes for special components. The company will not be open for business until sufficient repairs have been completed and approved by the Troy building official, Riesterer said.
Liquefied petroleum gas, a hazardous substance, was released during the incident, Riesterer said. He described the forklift fire as a relatively small incident: “basically a vehicle fire inside of a building.”
The cause of the fire remains under investigation, and monetary loss has not yet been determined.
This is the second time Troy firefighters have extinguished a blaze at the facility. Molten metal from a processing machine ignited decking supporting the machine Nov. 17, 2011. In that incident, fire investigators spoke with key employees at the plant and determined that the cause of the fire was unspecified mechanical failure on part of the processing machine that allowed the molten metal to discharge onto the elevated deck support and other combustible materials, according to reports.
A representative for the business could not be reached by press time.
About the author
Staff Writer Terry Oparka covers Troy and the Troy School District for the Troy Times. Oparka has worked for C & G Newspapers since 2000 and attended Oakland University and Macomb Community College. Oparka has won an award from the Michigan Press Association and four awards from the Society of Professional Journalists, Detroit Chapter.
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