According to local news reports, a melting furnace Lodi Iron Works in Lodi, CA, exploded earlier this week and spilled several tons of molten metal. A fire began but was shortly under control. No injuries were reported, according to the city’s fire department.
The Lodi News-Sentinel reports that foundry workers had dropped scrap metal into the furnace when they heard several "pops," according to company president Kevin Van Steenberge. Then, the furnace exploded and showered the plant with molten metal from the top and dumping the rest from its bottom.
"Thank God no one was hurt," Van Steenberge told the newspaper. "Machinery you can fix and move on, but you can't do that with people."
Damage has been initially estimated at $400,000, but Van Steenberge said it isn't yet known if the furnace can be fixed or must be replaced. The "pops," or small explosions caused by the scrap metal may have cracked the furnace's inner lining, causing the molten metal to come into contact with water coils in the furnace's walls, he said. Steam created by such contact could cause an explosion. An investigation will research the accident more carefully.
Melting and pouring at Lodi Iron Works was suspended during the investigation, and clean-up will have to be completed.