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4 Explosions Rock Mich. Steel Plant

January 6, 2001

DEARBORN, Mich. (AP) _ Four explosions and a fire at the huge Rouge Steel plant on Friday injured at least two workers, authorities said.

Police Lt. Richard Zimmerman said the workers were able to walk away after the explosions in a blast furnace.

The 1,100-acre Rouge complex comprises six Ford Motor Co. plants and Rouge Steel, where the explosions occurred.

Rouge Steel vice president Bill Hornberger said molten steel of about 2,000 degrees spewed out of the furnace. The blast shut down the furnace and one-third of the plant’s iron-making capacity, but damage was limited to pipes and wiring.

``We’ve got a mess,″ Hornberger said. ``Thank God no one was hurt.″

The incident was the latest in a series of accidents at the Rouge complex.

A year ago, molten steel exploded in a vat at the foundry, sparking a series of small fires and causing two minor injuries. In August 1999, one worker died after being overcome by fumes while performing maintenance work at Rouge Steel.

And in February 1999, a boiler explosion at a Ford power plant killed six employees and injured 14 others.

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