Molten steel spilled from a ladle and ripped through three floors of a TimkenSteel’s Harrison plant in Canton, OH, last month, but much of the sprawling operation was up and running Friday morning.
The fire knocked out a caster used to melt scrap metal and make steel. While steel production at the plant ended up temporarily affected, bar finishing lines and other downstream operations did not end up affected and production there is continuing.
“The building and systems wiring in the casting operations were damaged, but the equipment was not,” company officials said in a statement. “Our current assessment is that production won’t be significantly impacted.”
The Harrison plant, which sits between Harrison and Dueber avenues SW, is the original mill where Timken Co. began making steel 100 years ago. About 40 percent of steel made by TimkenSteel — created in 2014 when it was split from Timken Co. — is poured in the Harrison mill and the rest is poured at the Faircrest plant.
Canton Fire Chief Thomas Garra said the cause of the spill remains under investigation along with the monetary loss to the company. There were no injuries to firefighters or plant personnel because of the spill.
Canton firefighters were called to the plant at 1835 Dueber Ave. SW at 9:24 p.m., where they met with the TimkenSteel fire brigade to organize their attack on the blaze, Garra said.
The molten metal had spilled from a ladle on the third floor, causing extensive damage to that floor and to the second and first floors below, Garra said.
“Anything flammable … that molten steel will set it on fire immediately,” he said. “You can’t put a solid stream (of water) directly on the steel or you’ll have an explosion. If you’re going to cool steel, you’ll have to do it with a fog pattern, like a mist.”
City firefighters from five city fire stations responded while two more were called in to provide fire service for the rest of the city if more calls for help came in.
TimkenSteel officials said the company has started work to repair the caster. The company had scheduled a maintenance outage for December, so plans are to move that process up. Repairs and scheduled maintenance can occur at the same time, allowing the company to run the plant without the planned interruption in December, the company said.
The bar mill operations already had been stocked with steel, and can continue running despite the fire, the company said.
The fire at Harrison occurred about five hours after residents in Perry and Pike townships were shaken by a loud noise that was mistaken as an explosion.
TimkenSteel officials said water and steam reacted in a section of the Faircrest plant that is managed by a third-party contractor, which resulted in the loud noise. There were no injuries or damage to TimkenSteel’s property, the company said.