Major global acrylics supplier ablaze in southern Taiwan

A major global supplier of acrylic sheeting caught fire early this morning, and firefighters are still trying to bring the blaze under control at noon.

According to reports, the Sumipex Techsheet Company factory in Nanzih Science and Technology Industrial Park caught fire after a suspected boiler explosion at around 7:38 am. The Kaohsiung City Fire Department dispatched 55 vehicles and 130 personnel to fight the fire.

Thick smoke from the fire could be seen many kilometers away, and the Kaohsiung Environmental Protection Bureau urged residents of several districts downwind of the fire to stay indoors and keep windows and doors closed. Areas affected include Nanzih, Zuoying, Gushan, Qianjin, Sanmin, Qijin, and Qianzhen.

A factory manager named Lee is quoted as saying that a tank containing methyl methacrylate is suspected to have overheated and exploded. Employees at the factory were immediately evacuated and no one was trapped or injured.

Pictures and video showed an intense blaze with fierce flames and thick black smoke. Residents in surrounding areas reported strong, acrid smells of burning plastic. Several explosions were heard, and fire fighters deployed robots to get close to the burning building.

firefighters deploy robot to control fire

The fire bureau ordered gas to be cut off from the surrounding area, and focused efforts on preventing the fire spreading to neighboring factories, while letting the raw material in the tanks to burn out.

Specialist chemical fire vehicles and military police vehicles were also seen on site.

More than 100 people from surrounding factories were evacuated as a safety precaution.

Sumipex Technology is a subsidiary of Japan’s Sumimoto Chemical Group. The company uses pure MMA (methyl methacrylate monomer) to manufacture acrylic sheets.

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