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Fire leads to production halt at Aleris plant

Keywords: Tags  Aleris International, Richmond plant, Virginia facility, fire, production, finishing, 3025 sheet, aluminum Michael Cowden


CHICAGO — A fire at Aleris International Inc.’s Richmond, Va., facility has halted production, and it isn’t immediately clear when full operations might resume, a company spokesman told AMM April 25.

It also was unclear April 25 whether, or to what extent, customers might be impacted, the spokesman said. While finishing operations are likely to resume April 26, it isn’t yet certain when production might start up again, he added.

"We will do everything we can to minimize the impact on customers, if there is any," he said. "As we progress through the recovery and investigation process, it will become more clear when additional operations may resume and when we can return to full production capacity."

The blaze broke out at 4:40 p.m. local time April 24, and given the location of the fire in a four- to five-story tower and potential chemical reactions it was decided to let the fire burn itself out, a process that lasted "well into the night," the Beachwood, Ohio-based aluminum company’s spokesman said.

The tower is part of the production process at the Richmond plant and is used as aluminum pellet is converted into sheet, he said.

The Richmond facility produces 3025 aluminum sheet from recycled material, which is then used to make such products as gutters, downspouts and aluminum siding, according to Aleris’ website.

The facility normally operates 24 hours a day five days a week and employs roughly 100 people, the spokesman said. Approximately 30 people were on site when the fire broke out, he said, noting that all were evacuated and accounted for with no injuries.

It is too early to say what the extent of the damages to the facility and what the cost to repair them might be, the spokesman said. That’s in part because while the fire has died out, investigators are making sure there are no "hot spots" before they proceed with a closer examination of what might have caused the blaze and what the impact on operations might be, he added.

Local first responders and Aleris’ own security team responded to the blaze within minutes of it being noticed, the spokesman said.


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