Plant reflects one year after major fire


As the fire spread rapidly at the Meridian Magnesium plant a year ago, managers say they had to act quickly to control the situation.

“I remember all the people around coming together as a team, working together as a common goal to figure out where we were,” Safety Coordinator Colin Chapman said. “What was going on, making sure everybody was safe, making sure everybody was away from the area, getting people out of the scene safely.”

The fire started one night when molten material landed on a conveyor belt. The building suffered about eight millions dollars worth of damage. Roughly half of that damage was to the structure, according to the incident report by the Eaton Rapids Fire Department. he other half covered the lost materials and product.

Both managers say the company had to hustle to meet the needs of automakers in the days and weeks that followed. Some, like Ford and BMW, had to halt production altogether until the company got back on its feet. But they got the job done thanks to their employees.

“I would put it out to the workforce,” General Manager George Asher said. “It’s what the workforce did to make our customers happy.” 

Today, they’re celebrating how far they’ve come. The managers say they’ve changed some safety policies in the aftermath of the fire. But what hasn’t changed is their commitment to protecting their workers.

“They come to work and they go home the same way,” Asher said. “We don’t want to injure people, we want to look at everything we can to make a safe work environment.”

The company also says they’re grateful for the support they got from the surrounding Eaton Rapids community after the fire, including the fundraisers for the hundreds of workers that were displaced.

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