Damages still being assessed at AK Steel fire in Middletown

It will take fire officials several weeks to determine the cause and cost of a fire at AK Steel’s Middletown Works on Saturday morning that took 60 firefighters from four fire departments a few hours to put out.

Company and fire officials said a cracked vessel holding molten steel ignited the large fire. According to Middletown Fire Chief Paul Lolli, the molten steel ignited other equipment and the building when it poured out at the Basic Oxygen Furnace which is located in the 3400 block of Lefferson Road at the sprawling complex.

The incident was initially reported as heavy smoke coming from the structure about 8:30 a.m. During the fire, there were some reports that included molten metal reportedly flowing through the building and the second floor concrete collapsing at one point, causing crews to be removed from the first floor.

Deputy Fire Chief Jeff Spaulding said the ladle holding the molten steel apparently was released before being poured into molds.

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“There have been no employees injured — all employees have been accounted for, and cleanup efforts are underway,” a company statement said. “We are looking into the cause of the situation and have no further information at this time.”

When contacted Sunday, Lisa Jester, AK Steel’s corporate communication manager, had no additional comment beyond Saturday’s statement.

Spaulding said one firefighter/paramedic was taken to Atrium Medical Center for minor injuries and was treated and released.

Lolli said it will take several weeks to determine what exactly happened and damage estimates at this early stage are impossible to predict.

Fire departments from Middletown, Franklin, Monroe and Liberty Twp. responded to the scene.

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