Two contractors burned in blaze at Niles manufacturer
Firefighters from Weathersfield, Lordstown, and Niles have been dispatched to the Howmet Structure Systems plant in Weathersfield.
A caller told the 9-1-1 dispatcher that one person was injured as a fire erupted just after 8 a.m. Tuesday in the former RMI plant on Warren Avenue.
According to Weatherfield Fire Chief Tom Lambert, the fire ignited as two contractors were removing the Titanium dust from a unit at the facility. The dust ignited, burned both of the contractors, with one receiving burns to the face. Both of the contracters were transported to two separate hospital burn units, and according to Lambert, are listed in stable condition.
There are three facilities in the Weathersfield area that work with titanium or magnesium, especially in the aerospace industry. Titanium is 40 percent less heavy than steel and is non-corrosive.
However, fires with magnesium or titanium can't be extinguished by water.
Chief Lambert said his department used 15,000 pounds of salt to attempt to put out the fire, but Lambert told 21 News that Lordstown Fire Department is equipped with F500 EA, an agent that helps to suffocate a fire, ans supplied to extinguish the blaze.
According to Howmet Aerospace Communications director Rob Morrison, a contractor was performing preventative maintenance and system cleaning of a titanium dust collection system at the Howmet Aerospace facility in Niles, and a fire broke out at approximately 8:12 a.m. Internal responders were on the scene immediately with local fire and emergency teams from Weathersfield, Niles, and Lordstown arriving within minutes of dispatch. The fire was extinguished quickly and local plant officials confirmed the equipment’s fire safety system worked as designed to minimize damage and risk.
Morrison said that initial reports indicate that two contractors suffered non-life-threatening injuries and were transported for treatment.
Morrison explained that the dust collection system affected by the fire is located outside the plant and therefore is expected to have minimal impact on normal manufacturing operations.
Niles and Lordstown fire departments assist in battling the fire.
Howmet supplies titanium alloys for the aerospace industry.