Plant fire unlikely to affect production

December 12, 1992|By Ross Hetrick and Bob Erlandson | Ross Hetrick and Bob Erlandson,Staff Writers

Bethlehem Steel Corp. said yesterday that a devastating fire at its No. 1 halogen tin-plating line early yesterday would have no immediate impact on its production of the steel used for tin cans and other containers.

The line had been shut for repairs for the past three weeks, and the No. 2 halogen line for tin-plating would continue meeting customer demand, spokesman G. Ted Baldwin said.

The effect on employment was not known, he said.

The company, which employs 5,780 workers at its Baltimore County steel mill, just spent $3.5 million renovating the No. 1 halogen line in January and February, Mr. Baldwin said. The line was scheduled to reopen Monday, he said.

Mr. Baldwin said it is believed that a spark, or other hot material, from a burning torch used to make holes in steel touched off the fire.

More than 1,500 gallons of chemical foam was used to smother the oil-and-rubber-fed fire early yesterday, and seven people were injured, according to the Baltimore County Fire Department.

A department spokesman estimated damage at $5 million. The company declined to estimate the damage.

"The dense smoke made it very difficult to get into the fire," fire department Capt. Pat Kelly said.

Six people, including two firefighters, were overcome by smoke, and a seventh was treated for a wrist injury, the captain said.

Four of the injured were treated at the Francis Scott Key Medical Center and released.

Three company employees who suffered serious smoke inhalation were treated at the University of Maryland Medical Center and released.

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