FIRE Blaze erupts at RMI Titanium after spark ignites dust in roof

Firefighters had to use chemical extinguishers on the blaze.
WEATHERSFIELD -- Forty firefighters from two township fire departments fought a titanium dust blaze Thursday in the roof of RMI Titanium Co., 1000 Warren Ave.
Randy Pugh, Weathersfield Township fire chief, said there was water damage from a sprinkler system to some office computers and likely some machinery.
RMI is an RTI International Metals company. Richard Leone, company spokesman, said there was no interruption of production and no injuries, and that damage was minimal.
He said the fire occurred in a forge shop area where furnaces are located; the bricks there are designed to withstand heat.
Water could not be used by firefighters on the titanium dust, the fire chief explained. Chemical extinguishers were used after a 6-by-8-foot section of roof was cut away.
Area help
Pugh said 32 volunteers from Weathersfield -- the entire crew -- responded after 4 a.m. Thursday. They were joined by seven firefighters and an officer from the Howland Fire Department.
"Thank God Howland's so close with the ladder truck," Pugh said.
That ladder was needed because of where the fire started.
Pugh explained that the building has three layers of roofing -- wood, metal and vinyl -- mostly due to remodeling and construction through the years.
Through the titanium process, dust is created and sometimes will collect on rafters. A spark here can cause trouble, he said.
"Basically that titanium dust ignited, probably from a spark from a furnace," he said.
That ignited the original wood roof.
Using water on the fire instead of chemicals would have made the blaze worse, he said.
Firefighters were on the scene for more than two hours.