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Aleris mill suffers 2d fire in less than two weeks

Keywords: Tags  Aleris International, Aleris, fire, Richmond plant, Virginia plant, safety, ductwork, furnace aluminum particulate


CHICAGO — Aleris International Inc.’s Richmond, Va., facility was hit by a fire the morning of May 3 as workers were cleaning up from a blaze at the same location less than two weeks earlier.

"During the cleanup process, fire ignited," a spokesman for the Beachwood, Ohio-based aluminum company told AMM. "We were starting the recovery process (from the previous fire), which involves cleaning the furnace and also repair work."

The blaze occurred as steel was being ground as part of efforts to replace a section of ductwork at the plant, the spokesman said. The fire was confined to external ductwork and didn’t enter the facility’s "furnace proper," he said.

The cause of the blaze wasn’t immediately certain, although it was speculated that the grinding of ductwork produced sparks that might have ignited aluminum particulate or other dust, the spokesman said.

The impact of the latest fire on production and the extent of any damage also weren’t immediately clear, he said, adding that the plant was evacuated as a matter of routine safety protocol and there were no injuries.

Local firefighters responded to the incident, and Aleris is currently assessing the situation, the spokesman said.

The fire has been extinguished, according to the spokesman. "There are no visible flames," he said, but noted that a sand blanket has been put down as a precaution.

The Chesterfield (Va.) Fire and EMS was dispatched at 9:23 a.m. and the fire was deemed under control at 12:01 p.m. May 3, a fire department spokesman said, adding that no injuries were reported.

A fire broke out at the Richmond plant April 24 in a tower involved in aluminum production (amm.com, April 25). Damage was initially thought to be minimal, and finishing and cold-rolling resumed April 25 (amm.com, April 26).

But Aleris later realized that the facility’s furnace had suffered more damage than expected, and said production could be down for two to three weeks. Aleris said at the time that customers would be served from capacity at other company plants (amm.com, April 30).

The spokesman said May 3 that the April 24 fire didn’t cause any structural instability in the tower.

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


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