ArcelorMittal makes repairs after Burns Harbor mill fire

2013-08-05T12:25:00Z 2013-08-05T22:13:09Z ArcelorMittal makes repairs after Burns Harbor mill fireJoseph S. Pete joseph.pete@nwi.com, (219) 933-3316 nwitimes.com

ArcelorMittal's steel mill in Burns Harbor, one of the biggest in the country, recovered quickly after a two-alarm fire late last month.

All necessary repairs were made and operations returned to normal shortly after a fire July 23 that occurred in a coal bunker serving ArcelorMittal Burns Habor's coke battery operations, General Manager Bill Steers said. In steelmaking, coal is purified into coke and then fed into the blast furnace to keep it hot enough to melt iron.

Firefighters from five different Porter County fire departments swarmed to the steel mill on the shore of Lake Michigan to battle the fire, which was so large the mill's in-house fire department had to summon reinforcements. Porter, Chesterton, Burns Harbor and Washington Township firefighters were at the scene for two hours.

Company officials said the damage was minor, and did not affect production. Workers clocked back in at the mill the next day, which is capable of producing up to 4.7 million tons of raw steel annually.

"There was no impact on our ability to meet customer demand," Steers said.

The mill is one of ArcelorMittal's largest fully integrated steelmaking facilities in the United States. More than 3,700 workers make hot-rolled, cold-rolled and steel plate products, which are largely used to make automobiles.

Production at the plant was disrupted earlier this year when a work stoppage took place after the union had safety concerns about slab casters that handle molten steel. That shutdown cut the mill's output by an estimated 250,000 tons.

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