Production Halted at Newport Plant after Weekend Fire

MAY 16, 2005 - Posted at 7:58 a.m. CDT

NEWPORT, AR - Production at the Arkansas Steel Associates plant in Newport has been halted temporarily by a fire at the steel mill.  The blaze Sunday morning sent flames up to fifty feet into the air.

Diaz Volunteer Fire Department Captain Brent Lassiter said firefighters from a half-dozen departments were on the scene for nearly 12 hours after the blaze was reported at 1:45 a.m.  A person answering the phone at the plant yesterday afternoon said production was halted for the time being, but offices would reopen today.

No one was hurt.

Lassiter said the blaze began with an explosion and was fueled by mineral oil.  Heat and structural conditions slowed firefighters at first and crews had to wait until high-voltage lines could be cut before they were able to attack the flames.  Lassiter said firefighters were able to make headway once they used an extinguishing agent where the oil was burning.

The plant has 220 workers and is a leading producer of railroad tie plates.  Officials at the plant had earlier announced plans to expand.

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)