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UPDATED: Investigators say a furnace blew up at Radford foundry Sunday morning

Viewers reported hearing an explosion and seeing flames at the Grede foundry on West Main Street around midnight.

May 27, 2012|WDBJ7 Web Staff

RADFORD, Va. — UPDATED 4:55pm:

Investigators have an idea of what may have caused an early morning explosion and fire at a plant that makes metal parts for cars in Radford.

It happened at the Grede Foundry in the 1700 block of West Main Street just after midnight Sunday.

The fire chief feels it's likely that one of the furnaces at this plant blew up, igniting its rubber roofing. At 12:15 Sunday morning, a witness describes hearing a loud boom.

There are still as many questions as there are answers following this explosion at the Grede Foundry in Radford. A witness who lives and works in an auto body shop across the street thought a car hood in his shop fell to the floor.


"I saw all of the smoke billowing out of the top of the buildings here with the vent and stuff," said Giles Seawell, a witness. "We had an explosion inside the building of a holding furnace that actually holds the iron in it."

The fire chief says these types of explosions are often caused by moisture getting under the molten iron.  That hasn't been determined as the cause of this fire. Seventeen firefighters using three engines and a ladder truck fought the fire.

"We concentrated on the rubber membrane roof of the facility. We had that out within about 30 minutes," said Radford Fire Chief Lee Simpkins.

Other hot spots were allowed to burn out.  Ten people out of a work force of 170 were inside.

Everyone was accounted for and no one was hurt.

WDBJ7 is told it may take a few days before we have more infromation about the explosion including how much repairs may cost.


We're working to find out more about a possible explosion at a plant in Radford.

Viewers reported hearing an explosion and seeing flames at the Grede foundry on West Main Street around midnight. That plant makes iron parts for cars and other products.

A viewer picture shows the foundry on fire with smoke and some flames coming from the building.

10 people were inside the plant when the explosion happened but they have all been accounted for and were not hurt.

Radford Fire Chief Lee Simpkins says one of the furnaces blew up and caught the rubber roofing on fire.

He says crews were called to the plant around 12:15 a.m. and were able to leave the scene around 2:15 a.m.

He says there is significant damage to the building but they likely won't have a damage estimate until Tuesday.

You might remember there was an explosion at New River Castings in March of 2000. That's on the same site as the Grede building. That explosion killed three people and left a hole the size of a football field in the center of the plant.

Investigators ruled that explosion an accident. They said a natural gas leak or a leak of some other gas caused it.

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