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Massena firefighters respond to equipment fire at Alcoa West plant

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MASSENA - A piece of equipment being operated in Alcoa’s Electrode Department at their West Plant caught fire early Wednesday evening, but damage was limited to the equipment and there were no injuries, according to Alcoa officials.

“Damage has been limited to that one piece of equipment. There is no structural damage, and they are checking now to see if there was an impact on any of the surrounding equipment,” company spokesperson Darcy Fargo said Wednesday evening.

The fire was first reported between 6 and 6:10 p.m., she said.

“There was a device in the electrode portion of the plant that is used to preheat a mixture that makes anodes for the smelting process. That piece of equipment ignited. We don’t know why at this point,” she said.

Alcoa’s Fire Response Team immediately began fighting the fire, and the Massena Volunteer Fire Department responded to the scene to assist them, Ms. Fargo said.

“They aided our Alcoa Response Team, and the blaze was quickly contained,” she said.

The Massena Rescue Squad and Seaway Valley Ambulance were also on the scene as a precaution, although their services were not necessary, according to Ms. Fargo. The Louisville Volunteer Fire Department was placed on standby at the Massena station.

“All emergency evacuation procedures were utilized and followed. Everyone got out safely and securely. There were no injuries, she said.

The fire caused no impact on operations, Ms. Fargo said.

“We are smelting and casting, and we are going to be able to do that in the foreseeable future,” she said.

A March 29, 2012 fire had caused much more extensive damage. That blaze, in which no one was injured, began when a chip melter malfunctioned in the cast house at Alcoa’s West Plant, sparking a blaze that quickly jumped to the roof of the two-story structure.

A chip melter is used to melt aluminum chips that are then cast into aluminum ingots or 1,500 pound flat blocks also known as sows or pigs.

During that fire, a large cloud of black smoke could be seen from miles away and was covering much of Massena. There was no indication of smoke outside the plant during Wednesday’s fire.

During the 2012 blaze, firefighters continued to battle hot spots well into the night after officials had declared the fire under control early that evening.

Approximately 60 employees had been working inside the building at the time of that fire. The cast house and the adjacent extrusion building were both evacuated.

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