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A fire that engulfed the Koppers Inc. industrial plant in the Fort Lewis area of Roanoke County, VA, caused $500,000 in damage, fire department officials said.

Fire investigators determined the Oct. 5 fire accidentally sparked when a welder was conducting maintenance on machinery and an air line malfunctioned, causing flames to spread to the nearby combustibles and then engulf the building in the 4000 block of Koppers Road, Roanoke County Fire & Rescue spokeswoman Jennifer Conley Sexton said.

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The welder suffered minor burns while trying to extinguish the flames. The worker ended up treated at the scene and released.

Firefighters arrived at 1 a.m. Crews from the Fort Lewis, Masons Cove, Hollins and Cave Spring stations were able to knock down the fire within about 20 minutes and contain the flames to the building where the fire originated.

Schneider Bold

The fire was contained to a small area of the plant, said Koppers spokeswoman Jessica Franklin. She said the fire will not affect day-to-day business operations.

The plant was built in 1955, and it preserves railroad ties and bridge timbers.

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