Hamilton

No injuries reported after 'series of eruptions' at Hamilton steel factory

A large explosion at a steel factory in Hamilton was reported by Hamilton police Friday morning. Large clouds of brown smoke were seen coming from Hamilton's waterfront industrial zone.

Fire crews were called to ArcelorMittal after reports of an explosion in the area

Large clouds of brown smoke were seen coming from Hamilton's waterfront industrial zone. Fire crews said the explosion took place at ArcelorMittal Dofasco. (Submitted by Lishai Peel)

No injuries have been reported after a large explosion at a steel factory in Hamilton Friday morning, according to Hamilton police.

Large clouds of brown smoke were seen coming from Hamilton's waterfront industrial zone.

Shortly after 11 a.m. Hamilton fire crews said they were called to 300 Wilcox Street, north of Burlington Street, for a fire in a building belonging to ArcelorMittal, a steel production company, according to Hamilton Fire. 

Hamilton fire and police officials initially said the blast took place at Stelco Hamilton Works. In fact, the blast took place at ArcelorMittal Dofasco.

Marie Verdun, a spokesperson for ArcelorMittal Dofasco, said the fire was a result of a "slag pit eruption."

"At approximately 11:10 a.m. a slag pit eruption occurred at the No. 4 Blast Furnace. Thankfully there are no injuries. However the event caused a significant air emission. Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks have been alerted," the statement reads.

Verdun said there were "a series of eruptions that occurred during the Slag Casting process – when slag and molten iron from the Blast Furnace are separated and the slag is cast."

She said "In this case liquid slag / iron came into contact with moisture which caused the eruptions."

Verdun said "The reaction was between water and primarily liquid iron and would have been comprised of mostly iron, iron oxide and water vapour, as well as silica, calcium, magnesium, carbon dioxide, and carbon monoxide." 

Verdun said ArcelorMittal did attend the scene and the site is now secure.

Sheri Ovis, a resident living nearby, told CBC Toronto she "heard bangs and it felt like three loud shockwaves. We went outside and saw the huge cloud of brown rusty coloured smoke."

Other residents from Hamilton, Stoney Creek and Burlington reported hearing the blast, and some said it sounded like "bombs going off."

Hamilton police acting Staff Sgt. Jason Leek says all employees are accounted for.

Leek said the incident caused "quite a cloud" but it dissipated quickly and police are not aware of any safety or environmental concerns.

"There was no residual fire or danger that we're aware of right now and no roads are closed," he said.

Hamilton Fire and Hamilton Police have since cleared the scene. 

Sheri Ovis, a resident living nearby, said in a tweet: "We heard bangs and it felt like three loud shockwaves. We went outside and saw the huge cloud of brown rusty coloured smoke." (Submitted by Sheri Ovis)

Leeshai Peel said she was taking her son tobogganing on a hill in East Hamilton when she heard a series of explosions.

"We saw a massive explosion, which was followed by the rolling smoke and a big, huge puff of smoke," Peel told CBC News. "Initially, we thought it was fireworks ... within seconds we looked out and saw that it was actually coming from the factories." 

"We just immediately went home because we didn't know if it was safe or not," she said.

"We were smelling something unusual, something like sulfur, and we had our five year old with us and he kept asking me if it was dangerous and I kept telling him not to worry — but it was quite jarring." 

Leeshai Peel was tobogganing with her son on a hill in east Hamilton when they heard a series of explosions before seeing a large cloud of smoke loom over. (Submitted by Leeshai Peel)

Corrections

  • An initial version of this story cited Hamilton Fire and Police as saying the blast took place at Stelco Hamilton Works. In fact, the blast took place at ArcellorMittal.
    Dec 25, 2020 2:34 PM ET

With files from The Canadian Press

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