Glass plant blasted by flash flood

AFG Industries, one of the city's largest companies, is still struggling to get operations back on line after the glass factory was submerged in 5 feet of water during Saturday's flash floods.

The flood extinguished the company's massive furnace — 160 feet long and 30 feet wide — which must run at 1,600 degrees 24 hours a day, seven days a week.To re-ignite the furnace, company officials trucked in a trio of giant generators and company officials were flown in from headquarters in Kinsgport, Tenn., to assist in the cleanup."We had a 5-foot lake that gathered in the batch house and lower furnace level," plant manager Don Frawley said. "Everyone had to think and act very quickly to maintain the operation and try to get that water out of here."

Frawley said no damage estimate was available Tuesday, but predicted that the costs will be "significant." He said the Silica Drive plant averted major disaster because of quick action by the company's employees and that the plant will be "up and functional" in a matter of days.

If AFG's furnace had gone completely cold it could have taken up to 6 months to re-heat, Frawley said.

No one has been laid off as a result of the flood, Frawley said. In fact, employees have been scheduled to work overtime until they complete the cleanup.

Company officials had anticipated the possibility of a flash flood. But after last Saturday's floods, Frawley said more planning is needed to avert problems in the future.

"We are working with the city trying to come up with an alternative method of channeling the water rather than its current path," Frawley said.

He said AFG and city officials are working together to create culverts that would allow water to flow through the property more quickly.

AFG was formed in 1978 by R.D. Hubbard through the merger of Fourco Glass and ASG. It is the largest supplier to the construction and specialty glass markets, and the second-largest glass manufacturing organization in North America, according to the company's Web site. The plant in Victorville was constructed in 1987.

600450 Glass plant blasted by flash flood
Date: 19 August 2004

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