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Whiting Metals

Whiting Metals is pictured in Hammond.

HAMMOND — Firefighters battled two industrial fires within one hour as temperatures rose into high 80s Thursday, the fire chief said.

Hammond firefighters responded to the first call about 10:30 a.m. at Unilever, 1200 Calumet Ave., Fire Chief Jeff Smith said.

Firefighters arrived to find flames on the roof of a 50- to 60-foot structure, he said.

A roofing company had been using a torch to work with flashing, he said.

"Some of the sparks or flames must have dropped down between the wall," Smith said.

Crews remained on the scene for about an hour. No injuries were reported.

About 11:35 a.m., firefighters were dispatched to Whiting Metals at 2230 Indianapolis Blvd. for a fire in a baghouse, Smith said. A baghouse collects dust from industrial processes. 

"That smoke was pretty bad," Smith said. "I saw it all the way from 129th and Calumet."

The smoke dissipated quickly because of the location of the fire, but there was still a lot of heat, he said.

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Firefighters climbed an elevated metal structure to get to the baghouse, opened a door and doused the flames.

Smith said firefighters have previously responded to fires involving the same baghouse. Dust fires can ignite easily, he said.

"They will have to clean out that baghouse," he said.

The Fire Department doesn't plan to refer the incident to the Hammond Department of Environmental Management, he said.

Smith commended his firefighters for a job well done under challenging weather conditions. Some of them left Unilever to respond to Whiting Metals, he said.

"I'm sure they're pretty tired and sweated out," he said.

The Whiting Fire Department assisted by answering another call while Hammond firefighters were tied up.

"At one point, every fire truck we had was in the north part of the city," he said.

Smith said he also put the East Chicago and Gary fire departments on notice, but their assistance ultimately was not needed.

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