• Kyodo


Firefighters on Wednesday battled a magnesium fire for a second day at a metalworking factory in Machida, western Tokyo.

Held back by the intense heat from the burning magnesium, they couldn’t enter Shibata Tekuramu Co.’s Machida plant until Wednesday morning. The blaze was under control at around 4:30 p.m., but completely extinguishing it would take more time, firefighters said. The fire had broken out at around 4:15 p.m. Tuesday.

They were forced to rely on sand and special retardants because magnesium can explode on contact with water.

About 1,400 sq. meters of the two-story facility was gutted, firefighters said.

The magnesium processed at the plant is used to make computer components.

According to the Tokyo Fire Department, the temperature of the surface of the first floor ceiling was about 100 degrees as of Wednesday morning, while the air temperature within the facility reached as high as 50 degrees.

The first firefighters on the scene used water on the blaze but stopped as soon as they were informed about magnesium being processed at the facility.

One plant worker was listed in serious condition and seven others suffered minor injuries, the fire department said.

The employee in serious condition is reportedly a man in his 60s who suffered severe burns. The others injured are six men ranging in age from their 20s to 40s and a woman in her 30s.

More than 10 other workers were reportedly inside the factory when the fire started.

According to the police, workers said the fire started when a spark from an operation using a soldering iron ignited some magnesium and aluminum that were being processed.

The processing work takes place on the facility’s first floor.

Soon after the fire broke out, the fire department issued a voluntary evacuation advisory for residents within 100 meters of the plant. About 30 people were evacuated to nearby public gymnasiums.

The Machida Municipal Government also alerted residents in adjacent areas to stay indoors.

The fire department warned that extinguishing the fire would continue for some time, given that firefighters needed about 16 hours to control a blaze at a metalworking factory in Toki, Gifu Prefecture, in May 2012.

The Shibata Tekuramu factory is located in a residential area near the boundary between Tokyo and Yokohama, about 1 km south of Naruse Station on the JR Yokohama Line.

A man in his 70s who lives in the area said that after he heard a loud “boom,” his house started shaking.

“When I went outside (I saw) black smoke coming (from the facility) and a few people in ripped clothes sitting (outside the factory),” he said.

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