LORAIN – Five employees were taken to the hospital after a fire breaks out at Republic Steel in Lorain.
Captain Tom Baker from the Lorain Fire Department tells us that the injuries suffered are not life threatening.
According to Captain Baker, the fire broke out when a heat spark got into the supply of high pressure oxygen causing the oxygen system to fail.
As a result a large fire was created that spread through multiple levels of the building causing millions in damage.
Safety devices on the furnace did kick in shutting it down, but the damage to the building was already done.
The furnace is used to melt scrap metal and was shut down in 2008. It was replaced with an electric arc furnace, which fired up earlier this month.
Julian Sanchez, Director of Operations at Republic Steel's Lorain Plant, released a statement saying:
"At approximately 2:00 pm we experienced an accident during "hot commissioning" of our steel making operations at our Lorain Plant. The Lorain Fire Department was called and assisted with the situation. For precautionary measures, five employees were taken to an area hospital for evaluation of possible injuries sustained during the situation. There were no serious injuries and all five employees have been treated and released. Our thoughts and prayers are with our employees and their families.Republic Steel, the United Steelworkers Local 1104 and the equipment manufacturer have begun an investigation into the cause of the accident."
What caused the initial heat spark on the furnace remains under investigation.