A malfunction in a steel casting furnace sparked several fires and caused major damage, but no injuries, at a Hibbing, MN, foundry Sunday night.

The Hibbing Fire Department reported that crews go the call to go to Northern Foundry, 555 W. 25th St., just after 9:30 p.m. on a report of a furnace explosion and large fire.

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Northern Foundry, just west of downtown Hibbing, specializes in making small, high-volume castings used in the automotive, commercial vehicle, industrial and recreational markets, according to the company’s website. The foundry is a subsidiary of Indiana-based Metal Technologies Inc.

The furnace malfunction allowed molten metal to pour out of the bottom and come into contact with cooling water which then spattered and caused several spot fires in the building, fire officials said.

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When crews arrived on the scene, they saw smoke coming out of a large overhead door. Facility personnel told firefighters that everyone was safe and accounted for, and several employees were still in the building extinguishing the fires and shutting down other furnaces.

Firefighters and foundry staff worked to put out the spot fires.

Most of the damage ended up contained to the furnace that failed; initial estimates placed the damage at $100,000, though that may change after further investigation. The cause of the furnace failure was not immediately available.

Foundry officials said production would shut down for several days.

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