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RG Steel in Warren Township, OH, sustained extensive damage Monday morning after an explosion firefighters described as one of the worst in the plant’s history.

Emergency crews went to the plant at 1:45 a.m. after reports of a fire in a blast furnace and sounds of an explosion. A security officer at the building was one of those who reported the fire. He said it “appeared something just went up.”

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Firefighters said the explosion sent debris flying, which caused another fire to break out.

“When the stove blew up, the debris came out the top of it and all that molten steel, hot debris, landed on the other building and that is what caused the building to catch on fire,” said Warren Township Police Chief Ken Schick. “The machine shop was probably 75 to 80 percent totally engulfed in fire when we got there.”

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Warren Township firefighters, assisted by several local departments, including Howland, Braceville and Champion, quickly responded to the explosion in one of the blast furnace’s four ovens. It took about three hours to get the fire under control.

There were no injuries. However, firefighters said the building and its contents still sustained extensive damage and losses should be in the millions of dollars. The cause still is under investigation.

The explosion did cause the blast furnace, the last one still operating in the Mahoning Valley, to shut down for a short time.

RG Steel officials said the blast furnace restarted late Monday afternoon and there should be no customer disruptions because of the fire.

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