BELLEVUE, Ohio — A fire at a magnesium refining and recycling company in Bellevue lit up the early morning sky on Tuesday and forced authorities to close schools for the day.
Firefighters were called to battle the blaze in a storage lot at MagReTech at 4:45 a.m.
Investigators said four trailers loaded with scrap magnesium caught fire, but there was not much they could do to put out the flames because of magnesium’s volatility when it comes into contact with moisture.
Bellevue Fire Chief Brian Putnam said, “The method of extinguishment is pretty much to let it burn itself out. You can’t put water on it.”
Concern about the heavy smoke generated by the blaze, prompted authorities to ask nearby residents to stay inside, keep their windows closed and shut off their heating and air conditioning.
They also closed Bellevue schools for the day and had an evacuation plan in place at a nearby hospital as a precaution, in the event the smoke and fire intensified.
Residents said the blaze is reminiscent of a massive magnesium fire at a recycling plant in Garfield Heights in 2003.
Terry Norman told Fox 8, “I was concerned because I know what magnesium is, living so close, I know from that other place that burned up in Garfield Heights, what could happen.”
Fire officials are crediting employees of MagReTech with containing the fire by quickly moving other trailers loaded with magnesium and spreading a substance known as flux to keep the fire from spreading.
If not for their efforts, authorities believe the fire could have had a domino effect in the plant’s storage lot.
“It probably could have spread to the whole line of them, it started in the middle of them,” said Chief Putnam. “They were out there really quick.”
The Ohio Fire Marshal’s Office is now investigating the cause of the fire.
One possibility being considered by authorities at the scene is a lightning strike.
No one was hurt by the fire.