Scrap metal fire: Uses and combustibility of magnesium

Two trailers with magnesium chips caught fire

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – The smell of smoke was still in the air Saturday night, and 22News found out what was inside the two trailers that exploded.

Two trailers with magnesium chips caught fire outside the Joseph Freedman scrap metal factory in Springfield Friday night.

Magnesium burns a white light and is hard to extinguish. Springfield Fire Department spokesman Dennis Leger told 22News firefighters worked for 2 hours to contain the flames until they burned out.

Magnesium is used in firework sparklers, flares, and cameras, and helps make products lightweight, like car seats and laptops. It’s the lightest metal that can be used for manufacturing, but is limited in building structures because it burns at low temperatures.

Metal purchaser Ron Ness told 22News, “Magnesium content that’s in anything can create, or help to create, a dangerous situation under certain conditions.” Ness also said that metals should be kept separately from each other.

22News contacted John Freedman, President of the Joseph Freedman Recycling, to ask about what other metals are at the factory, and in the trailers, but we didn’t get an answer.

Children just a few houses down from the explosion were terrified.

Dequan Wood told 22News, “I was praying the whole time, and I started to cry but my aunt told me not to cry because of my cousin. When we picked up my cousin, she told me not to cry so I wouldn’t scare him.”

The Springfield fire department is still investigating the cause of Friday’s explosion.

Springfield Fire department spokesman Dennis Leger says more details on this fire should be made available on Monday.

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