By Richard Higgs
Weitra, Austria — Fire badly damaged part of the main plant of polyurethane elastomer products manufacturer Asma on Monday, 22 February, 2016 in the northern Austrian town of Weitra, according to local media reports.
Around 70 Asma employees escaped unhurt when the blaze broke out in a 1,500m2 processing hall early on Monday morning. Flames are reported to have rapidly engulfed 300m2 of the hall and smoke filled the rest of the building before firefighters could tackle the fire.
One fireman collapsed and was treated in hospital as 110 firefighters from 12 different brigades fought the blaze which is thought to have started when a 60 litre drum containing magnesium caught alight. The cause is still being investigated.
Firefighters took around two hours to control the fire using special foam extinguishing agents rather than water to dampen the flames to avoid an explosive chemical reaction.
Austrian media reported police as saying the plant blaze left part of the hall completely destroyed. Reports suggested the cost of the incident at the family-run firm could amount to EUR 2m ($ 2.1m). The company has so far not commented officially on the blaze.
Asma, formed in 1980 as a one-man business by Max Aspelmayr, now specialises in producing and processing PU elastomers.
The firm moved to the Weitra site in 1998. In 2006 the renovation of buildings on the site were completed. Asma has a joint venture operation in Poland and cooperates with partners in Slovakia and the Czech Republic.
XE Currency conversion: 24 February , 2016