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Hot slag rains down on Waynesboro, Pa.

March 19, 1999

Foundry explosionBy RICHARD F. BELISLE and KIMBERLY YAKOWSKI / Staff Writers

photo: RIC DUGAN / staff photographer




WAYNESBORO, Pa. - Slag being carried in a huge pot from a Waynesboro foundry to an outside dumping pit exploded when it hit water from melting snow, showering hot fragments over a quarter-mile area around Clayton Avenue on Thursday afternoon.

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There were no injuries from the outdoor explosion at the Castings Technology plant, but the hot slag ignited several small fires in the neighborhood, said Waynesboro Fire Chief Dale Fishack.

Some of the smoldering slag, a byproduct of the smelting process, landed on cars, shrubbery and the roofs of houses in the area, but no serious damage was reported, Fishack said.

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"We were very, very lucky," he said. "There were red-hot fragments flying all through the Clayton and Fifth Avenue area."

Fishack said he called in a second alarm, which brought units from as far away as Hagerstown to the scene.

"It was a minor explosion," said a company official, who refused to be identified.

He said the foundry has never before had such an accident.

Workers at the plant will be back on the job today, he said. The company employs 40 people.

He refused to comment further.

Fragments from the explosion ignited plastic shrouding on the roof of the main foundry building. The fire was extinguished before it caused much damage.

The molten slag was in a foundry pour pot that a worker using a forklift had hauled to a sand pit outside the plant for dumping, Fishack said. When he dumped it, the slag landed in water left from a recent snow melt.

"When molten metal hits water, it creates a steam explosion," Fishack said.

Vicki Huff was at work when the explosion at Castings Technology rained slag down on her ranch-style home.The side of her 718 Clayton Ave. property is beside a long driveway leading up to the foundry.

Along the foundry entrance, a row of burned conifer trees abut a metal fence that was blackened by the explosion.

Large sections of burned grass could be seen near the trees.

Huff said her husband, Terry, who works at the nearby Landis Tool Co., heard the explosion.

"He saw black smoke coming from near our home and thought it was on fire," she said.

She said his first concern was for the family Dalmatian, Safety, who was home at the time. The dog was not injured.

Vicki Huff and her husband are firefighters with the Waynesboro Fire Department and she said it was frightening to be the victim of fire.

When she arrived home she found sections of her yard and garage ablaze.

Firefighters quickly put out the fires on the property, she said.

The slag melted the siding on their garage, burned the wall and killed several daffodil bulbs.

Huff said the fire on the garage just missed several of the prized Lincoln roses she had spent years cultivating.

Other damage to the Huffs' property included melted house shingles and burned areas on their deck and in their yard.

Huff said she was not sure how much it would cost to repair the damage.

Burned patches of grass could be seen in yards near the Huffs.

Pieces of hardened slag, varying in size from 2 to 8 inches long, littered the neighborhood.

The Huffs' daughter, T.J., a sophomore at Waynesboro High School, said her classmates felt the trailer classrooms rattle from the explosion.

The Huff home is surrounded by the foundry, Landis and other plants. In the 18 years they have lived there they had never experienced anything like Thursday's explosion.

"Living in this area, we knew it was always a possibility, but it's not something we dwell on," Vicki Huff said.

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