Damages in the millions of dollars from central Toledo lithium fire

Damages in the millions of dollars from central Toledo lithium fire

TOLEDO, OH (WTOL) - The big scare at a central Toledo lithium plant has passed, but the search for a cause continues.

Firefighters were putting out hotspots Friday on the roof at Lithium Innovations on Campbell and Junction.

Flames poured out of the plant when the fire broke out Thursday afternoon. There was a voluntary evacuation over concerns lithium was burning and in the plumes of smoke coming out.

Fire under control at central Toledo lithium plant

Firefighters had to hold off going inside and could not even put water on the flames because of the lithium. However, it was later determined there was a smaller amount than expected and that burned up early in the fire.

When asked if it could have been worse, Battalion Chief Tim Clapp said, "Oh yes. Yeah, if there had been a heavy fire load in here, yeah it would have been something. It would have been a view from across the city."

Firefighters have stayed at the scene, but are rotating in after two to two and a half hour shifts because of the frigid cold.

They poured more water on the rubber and wood roof throughout the day, keeping a close watch on remaining hotspots.

By early afternoon, U.S. EPA inspectors wrapped up their investigation at the scene.

They took samples of the air to see if there was lithium still burning and getting out into the neighborhood.

"The only thing we are seeing are some particulates in the air, and you'll get that from the smoldering. At this point, we just think the fire chief and I agree it's just a structure fire and no real hazard to the community at this point," said J.J. Justice, the scene coordinator with the U.S. EPA

Fire investigators are in the early stages of their investigation, so there's no official cause for the fire.

But Lithium Innovations CEO Ford Cauffiel told us employees were processing lithium when it separated and spilled out, causing the fire.

He said they used fire extinguishers but the smoke got so bad, he told them to get out.

Cauffiel said the loss is in the millions of dollars.

Battalion Chief Clapp, however, said the building is still solid, with most of the damage in the roof.

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