Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Local News

January 3, 2013

Salvage operation may have started fire at former coke plant

ASHLAND — A fire at the former AK Steel Coke Plant  Monday afternoon may have been started by workers who were removing covers from the units as part of ongoing demolition operations, according to Ashland Fire Chief Scott Penick.

The chief said firefighters had challenges at the industrial scene, including disconnected hydrants, although the blaze was contained and no injuries resulted.

“We decided there was no action we could take to extinguish the fire within the tank,” Penick said Wednesday afternoon, explaining fire officials used techniques designed to reduce emissions and keep the fire from spreading. With no active hydrants at the idled coke plant, Penick said firefighters from Westwood and England Hill played a crucial role by hauling water to the scene.

The fire was contained within a pair of tanks Penick said essentially served to remove certain compounds from vapors produced when the plant was in operation. “... like a big filter, the way it was explained to me.” The units contained plastics as part of the filtration material, as well as wood, which burned with two distinct colors, Penick said, making the plume highly distinctive to those watching.

“The plastic burns black, just like a burning tire, and the wood burns with more of a brown color,” he said, noting the white vapors coming from the tanks were likely steam from the water used to keep the fire contained.

The chief also confirmed smoke from the fire displayed a “puffing” behavior. “It was drafting like a chimney. It would almost like breathe,” he said, noting the effect is not an unusual sight for experienced firefighters.

Penick also confirmed reports of at least one “boom” sound from the fire. “While we were there it did blow the top off one of them,” he said, adding the improved access may have made it easier for responders to fight the fire.

Firefighters kept hose lines in place while the fire burned, and have revisited the site several times in the days after to assure federal officials there is no further immediate fire danger. As burning materials fell from the bottom of the tanks, Penick said firefighters were waiting to drown the debris.

“We believe it’s almost down to ambient temperature now,” Penick said, crediting coordinated efforts of the firefighters and fire departments involved.

TIM PRESTON can be reached at tpreston@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2651.

1
Text Only
Local News
  • News in brief, 07/31/14

    About 450 marijuana plants were confiscated during an eradication effort in Lawrence County on Tuesday.

    July 30, 2014

  • 0731facelift1.JPG Painters finishing up work at ACTC

    When Ashland Community and Technical College students return to campus Aug. 18, they will find fresh paint, clean windows and pressure-washed brickwork on the college’s original building on College Drive.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • Night Moves on tap for First Friday

    A chance to enjoy an evening run through the streets of Ashland will be among the things to do during the First Friday ArtWalk and Downtown Live for August from 5 to 9 p.m. Friday.

    July 30, 2014

  • Fairview school district being investigated

    State education investigators were scheduled to arrive in the Fairview school district this morning to interview school officials.

    July 30, 2014

  • Advisory committee on landfill to meet

    Members of the county’s new advisory committee regarding Big Run Landfill enforcement are encouraged to attend the group’s first meeting next week.
    Committee facilitator Mike Clevenger of Cannonsburg said the panel will meet the first Monday of each month, starting next week. For now, all meetings will be at 6:30 p.m. at the Boyd County Community Center.

    July 30, 2014

  • Highway dedicated in Morehead man’s name

    During Wednesday morning’s highway dedication ceremony for late airman Daniel N. Fannin, 30, of Morehead, the man was honored as a Kentucky hero for dedicating his life to the U.S. Air Force until his untimely death last year.

    July 30, 2014

  • Stumbo questions Noah’s Ark incentives, backs off on expanded gambling

    Democratic Speaker of the House Greg Stumbo on Wednesday questioned the constitutionality of state incentives for a Noah’s Ark tourist attraction in Grant County.

    July 30, 2014

  • Night Moves for First Friday

    A chance to enjoy an evening run through the streets of Ashland will be among the things to do during the First Friday ArtWalk and Downtown Live for August in downtown Ashland from 5 to 9 p.m. Friday.

    July 30, 2014

  • ‘Arts in the Vines’ will be in conjunction with U.S. 60 Yard Sale

    Offering a different taste of life in Carter County, the owners of RockSprings Winery are inviting locals and visitors to the U.S. 60 Yard Sale to spend some time in their vineyards during the first “Arts in the Vines” from noon to 6 p.m. Saturday.

    July 30, 2014

  • Grimes zeroes in on women’s issues with latest ad

    Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes is out with a third television ad posing questions from Grimes’ supporters to Republican incumbent U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell.

    July 30, 2014