Inc.s Howmet casting operation in Whitehall, Mich.,
suffered a fire in a titanium dust collector late Dec. 5.
said neither production nor customers will be impacted by what
a company spokeswoman characterized Dec. 6 as a "contained
fire" that began inside a wet dust collection system in the
scrap blasting department of the Whitehall facility.
"The fire was
extinguished after approximately one hour with the assistance
of the City of Whitehall Fire Department. No employees were
injured and the rest of the plant was unaffected," the
spokeswoman said Dec. 6. "Alcoas maintenance department
is repairing the equipment and expects the system to be fully
operational by Monday morning."
An explosion in a
titanium dust collector in building four of the five-building
Whitehall facility ignited titanium dust in ductwork, causing
intense heat that firefighters worried could damage other parts
of the building, White Lake Fire Authority Captain Pete
McCarthy told AMM Dec. 6.
The fire department
was dispatched at 11:02 p.m. on Dec. 5 and had extinguished the
blaze within approximately 80 minutes, but firefighters stayed
on the scene until almost 4 a.m. as they worked to lower high
temperatures caused by the fire, McCarthy said. Some ductwork
melted as a result of the blaze, he said, noting that there was
"fire blowing out of the vent in the roof," when first
responders arrived on the scene.
"A contained fire is
not worrisome. But because the fire got so hot, sections of the
steel that make up the box of the dust collector began to warp
and allow extra oxygen in," McCarthy said.
enough dry chemical to keep the fire at bay until the titanium
dust had burned off, McCarthy said. But even after the flames
were extinguished, temperatures remained had high as 1,300
degrees, which meant the box had to be capped and filled with
water to bring temperatures "down to where we were comfortable
releasing the scene back to (Alcoa) Howmet," he said.
No workers or
firefighters were injured, McCarthy said, noting that the
incident was an explosion by definition but confined to the
dust collector. "It didnt take down part of the
building," he said, stressing that popular images associated
with explosions are often extreme.
The cause of the
explosion has not been determined, and Alcoa is undertaking its
own investigation, McCarthy said.
Alcoa Howmets Whitehall casting operation makes
investment-cast turbine components for the aerospace and
industrial gas turbine industries, according to the