Hot Pipe Cause of MetalX Fire

Thursday, August 31, 2017 @ 04:08 PM gHale

Firefighters battle flames at Metal X in Waterloo on Aug. 26.

A hot pipe on a scrapped vehicle was the cause of a fire Saturday at MetalX’s Waterloo, IN, plant that sent a plume of dark smoke into the air, the metal recycler said.

Crews from four fire departments got the call at 5 p.m. Saturday to the MetalX plant in Waterloo on a report of a fire there.

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Flames were initially shooting 25 to 30 feet in the air, and black smoke could be seen billowing from a pile of metal for several miles.

Firefighters from Waterloo, Auburn, Butler, and Corunna responded and watered the pile as workers with heavy equipment pushed the pile around.

There were no injuries in the incident and there was no damage to property or equipment.

MetalX said the source of the fire was traced to a load of obsolete scrap received Saturday morning. The fire was believed to be sparked by a hot vehicle exhaust pipe that had been torch cut by the supplier to remove a more valuable item, officials said.

The scrap was reportedly inspected when it arrived, and it was marked as a concern and separated from other raw materials, the company said. It was sprayed with water before a shift change at 3:30 p.m., and “no further issues were reported until the fire broke out later,” MetalX said.

MetalX Vice President of Operations Clyde Billips said the fire posed no danger to human or animal health because the facility does not accept any hazardous material.

MetalX said the fire was just the second since it opened in 2012.

“While any fire is one too many, this is only the second such incident since the facility opened in 2012,” said Billips. “We maintain stringent inspection, operating, and fire prevention control practices in our operations, so this is a very rare occurrence. In that regard, I’m proud of how our employees responded, and in conjunction with area firefighters, were able to deal with the situation without injury or incident.”

MetalX resumed full and normal operation on Monday, the company said.

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