• Kyodo

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A fire broke out Friday at a Bridgestone Corp. tire plant in Amagi, Fukuoka Prefecture, injuring 13 people, firefighters said.

Twelve suffered from fume inhalation and one suffered burns, officials said. Their conditions were not considered life-threatening, but five of them were hospitalized.

A production line at the plant, which mainly makes tires for buses and trucks, caught fire around 2:20 p.m. and was extinguished by 5 p.m., after around 800 sq. meters of the facility were gutting, according to local fire officials.

Witnesses reported seeing black smoke at one of the 12 material mixing machines within a smelting facility at the plant, police said. Around 20 people were working near the machine when the fire broke out, they added.

Bridgestone officials apologized for the fire at a news conference later in the day, saying they regretted causing such trouble to local residents.

They added that they suspended all operations at the plant after the fire.

The plant, with about 1,200 employees, is located 2 km south of the city center. It began operations in 1973 and occupies an area of 378,000 sq. meters.

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