Firefighters from Ashland, Westwood and other local departments responded to the former AK Steel Coke Plant shortly after 3 p.m. Monday.
Witnesses reported black smoke from the fire could be seen several miles away at Ashland Town Center Mall. Mike Lee, who was working at The Battery Terminal directly across U.S. 23 from the coke plant, reported hearing an explosion before smoke erupted from each of the two rust-and-white units.
“I heard a boom and saw smoke from one side and then ... about 10 minutes later, there was another boom and smoke came out of the other side,” Lee said.
Lee and others watching firefighters tackle the situation observed the smoke was “puffing” from the top of each tank, reminding them of an old-fashioned locomotive engine. Employees at nearby Tri-State Pawn & Jewelry said the shop was very busy when the fire was reported, and were unaware of the situation until someone pointed their attention to the nearby industrial site.
The cause of the fire was not known and details about the incident were not available late Monday. No injuries were believed to have resulted from the fire.
TIM PRESTON can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (606) 326-2651.