Chemical fire breaks out at Dow Corning in Midland, Michigan

An early morning fire at Dow Corning Corp.’s Saginaw Road facility closed roads and kept firefighters on task for five hours as they worked to extinguish flames.
The company still is assessing damage from the blaze that occurred Saturday within the southwest corner of the facility, in its 300 block. At its peak, a Dow Corning spokeswoman said the fire covered a six- by six-foot area.
City of Midland Fire Department Battalion Chief John Haag said the time it took to extinguish the process tower fire was a matter of being able to safely get to, and shut off the valve feeding it. “I don’t think that this was anything bigger than in the past,” he said.
Downwind air monitors did not detect chemicals escaping the plant — water streams provided from city fire trucks and plant systems essentially “scrubbed” any circulating chemicals, Haag said.
No employees were injured in the incident caused by a leak of a chlorosilane-based material, which is a chemical compound consisting of silicon, carbon, hydrogen and chlorine. The cause is still being investigated, Dow Corning spokeswoman Mary Lou Benecke said.
City firefighters — 10 in all — were called to the scene at about 1:30 a.m. and were joined by Dow Corning’s safety team.
“When they initially got there, there was quite a bit of smoke that was visible,” Haag said.
Road barriers were set up in the surrounding area, closing traffic at Salzburg, Saginaw, Waldo and Bay City Roads.
“Dow Corning takes very conservative precautions when it comes to incidents,” Benecke said. “It’s one of our highest priorities.”
The fire was extinguished and roads reopened at about 6:30 a.m.

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