OUTH HEIDELBERG TWP., Pa. — Smoke could be seen coming from what the Western Berks Fire Department said is a Reading Alloys processing plant in the 200 block of Old West Penn Avenue in South Heidelberg Township on Wednesday afternoon.
It is a metals plant that produces master alloys, thermal barrier coatings and titanium powders.
Western Berks Fire Commissioner Jared Renshaw said crews responded early Wednesday afternoon and received reports of explosions.
“We did have some reports of people injured, but luckily everybody was out and they were tended to by EMS,” Renshaw said.
A manager at the plant indicated there were no injuries and declined to comment further.
“Fortunately, no one was injured, and beyond that, we really don’t have any comment at this time,” said Jim Maguire, Reading Alloys general manager.
Officials said a special material had to be brought in to help extinguish a chemical fire.
A Reading Regional Airport crew arrived at the scene in case one of its special suppression agencies was needed.
“We started to go through our plan A, B, C and D,” Renshaw said. “We just started to look a little bit towards the future on depending on what we have burning or what’s going on.”
The Western Berks Fire Department said approximately 100 firefighters responded to the call and that water had to be pumped in from two nearby ponds.
Officials said the building is still standing, but parts of it collapsed.
“There’s definitely going to be a lot of work done to get it back to where it was, but you know, fortunately besides parts that were damaged from the explosion, we saved a good majority of that building,” Renshaw said.
Members of a bomb squad also showed up on scene.
A state police fire marshal is investigating the fire.