Source: Sherman Publications

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Fires at the Forge

by CJ Carnacchio

October 09, 2013

Some machinery at an industrial facility in Oxford Township suffered an estimated $500,000 in fire damage on Friday, Oct. 4.

Firefighters were called to Oxford Forge (2300 X-Celsior Dr.) at about 2:30 a.m. after a fire broke out in the plant's electrical room.

According to Fire Chief Pete Scholz, it appears that a transformer "blew from a surge or overload" and the hot oil that was inside it leaked out, igniting some nearby papers, cardboard boxes and plastic shelving and barrels.

"When the (Oakland County Sheriff's) deputy got there he got there just before we did he said there was heavy smoke coming out of that room and a glow could be seen," he said. "The fire was contained to that room. We were able to knock it down and extinguish it with no structural damage in that area."

But that's not the end of the story.

The fire set off an alarm, which caused the employees to shut all the machines down and evacuate the plant.

As a result, a 2,500-ton stamping press was switched off in the middle of an operating cycle.

Scholz said a piece of steel that had been heated to a temperature of more than 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit was still being held by a robot designed to insert it into the press.

This piece of superheated steel "ignited the greases and oils that are all over the machine as part of the process," the chief said. The burning lubricants caused the wiring, motor and anything else that was combustible on the press to catch fire.

Firefighters used the plant's dry chemical extinguishers on the burning machinery. Once the power was shut off, they were able to finish the job with water.

Scholz estimated the press and robot together suffered about $500,000 in damage.

"You've got that robot, which is probably totally burned up, and then you've got the (press) itself with all the controls and motor and so on and so forth," he said.

Per standard procedure, the incident is being investigated by the Oakland County Sheriff's Fire Investigations Unit.