Fire heavily damages Elkton metals manufacturing plant

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Firefighters from 15 companies in three states brought a two-alarm blaze inside an Elkton metal-based chemical manufacturing plant under control Sunday morning.

Suspected hazardous materials were contained to a manufacturing and storage area of the Colonial Metals facility near the entrance to Triumph Industrial Park in Elkton, fire officials said. The 200-foot-by-70-foot two-story building was heavily damaged, however, according to the Maryland Office of the State Fire Marshal. An exact loss in terms of dollars was unavailable Sunday, but the office reported damage "could be in the millions of dollars."

Colonial Metals was closed when the fire started and no one was injured as a result. One firefighter was taken to Union Hospital for heat-related injuries sustained while fighting the blaze, but was treated and released Sunday, according to the fire marshal's office.

Singerly Fire Company Chief Fred Hill said the first call came in at 6:47 a.m.

When firefighters arrived, black smoke was coming from the building. The county's Haz-Mat team arrived at the scene within a short time.

"We didn't see flames until we got inside," Hill said.

The Hazardous Materials team was called in because the facility has metals and chemicals inside, Hill explained. The team was able to use tests to determine that the fire did not breach containers containing worrisome chemicals or metals.

Colonial Metals has been at 505 Blue Ball Road in Triumph Industrial Park for 42 years. The facility serves as the company's corporate headquarters and has sales offices in Shanghai and Scotland. It is a global supplier of precious metal-based chemicals and services for electronics, semi-conductor and high technology industries.

"It appears that the area has been contained," Hill said at the scene Sunday morning. "But, we are hosing off all the firefighters as they come out just as a precaution."

The state fire marshal's office is still investigating the cause of the blaze, but reported that no evidence of arson had been found Sunday.

George Benvegno Sr., president of Colonial Metals, arrived at the scene a little after 7 a.m. after receiving a call from one of his sons.

Benvegno said the facility has a fire alarm system, which automatically calls the owners and 911. Benvegno said this is the first time his company has had a fire in the 42 years of operation here.

Fire companies from every station in Cecil County responded Sunday, in addition companies from Kent and Harford counties and units from Chester County, Pa., and New Castle County, Del., were also at the scene.

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