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Molten metal escapes furnace at Quaker Castings, sparks fires

May 27, 2011
Staff Reports , Salem News

SALEM - No injuries were reported when molten metal melted through a kettle furnace at Quaker City Castings and ran out onto the foundry floor Thursday evening, sparking several spot fires, Salem Fire Lt. Rod Hughes said.

Hughes explained the furnace is used to heat up iron or steel, then the resulting liquid is poured into molds at the plant located at 310 E. Euclid St. According to the company Web site at, the iron and steel castings serve several industries.

Those industries include valve and pump, power generation, locomotive, engineering/construction, aerospace, tire mold, drilling/mining, gears and defense/military.

Hughes said the molten metal apparently burned through the kettle furnace, which is lined with fire brick, and ran onto the floor. He said there were at least five or six small fires started as a result.

Firefighters responded with both on-duty and off-duty personnel, using foam to put out the fires and to cool the upper layer of the molten metal. Hughes said that's better to use than water in a situation like this because it expands a lot faster and water on hot metal tends to pop. The foam just flowed over everything.

He estimated damages at $300,000 for the furnace and the electronic control panels, but noted the company is insured.

He said the plant remained in operation.



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