Fire Breaks Out in Furnace Rebuild

Thursday, October 9, 2014 @ 02:10 PM gHale

A fire broke out while workers were rebuilding a plant production furnace at the Grace Davison plant in East Chicago, officials said.

The entire on-duty shift of East Chicago firefighters ended up called out to fight the blaze Saturday, said Assistant Chief Edmundo Muro.

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The fire was in a hard-to-reach area where wooden and steel beams impeded firefighters’ access, Muro said. Firefighters got the call at 9:12 a.m. and were not able to fully extinguish it until 1:09 p.m.

The contract workers performing the furnace work escaped unharmed. District Chief Thomas Boyle went to St. Catherine’s hospital for treatment suffering from a pulled muscle, Muro said.

Contacted Saturday afternoon, plant manager James Hansen described the damage done as minor and said work on the furnace rebuild should resume that evening as would plant operations. About 50 people work at the plant, which produces industrial silicates.

The plant started up in 1889 and Grasselli Chemical Co. originally operated the plant, which used to employ as many as 1,000 people. DuPont Chemical later operated the plant and then Grace Davison.

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