According to the emergency headquarters, the fire is speculated to have started during the curing process which hardens and shapes the tires at a second plant that was located in the northern center of the factory. The fire spread quickly to nearby facilities including a tire storage area, sending up big plumes of black smoke and pillars of fire into the sky.
Hankook Tire's factory complex is divided into two sections -- the first plant located in the southern parts of the complex and the second plant located in the northern parts -- and the tire maker announced that it will indefinitely stop the operation of the first plant that was intact after the massive fire.
Expressways and bullet train circuits were closed for safety until 6:31 a.m. on March 13. Two middle schools were voluntarily closed and a high school switched to a remote classroom system. An endless trail of cars moved out of a nearby apartment complex. People fled to the homes of their family members living in other parts of the city or to a government-designated sports and culture facility to evade the toxic black smoke which filled the area.
Firefighters said that a total of 158 fire-extinguishing equipment including special-purpose fire trucks and nine helicopters were deployed to put out the fire. The firemen found it hard to reach the source of the fire because of the toxic gas created from burning rubber and plastics. The fire was almost extinguished as of 11:00 a.m. and firefighters are putting out small fires across the factory complex.
Hankook Tire, which is South Korea's largest tire maker, exports up to about 65 percent of its products made at the Daejeon factory to overseas countries. The daily production capacity of the tire maker's Daejeon factory is about 45,000 and products made at the Daejeon's second plant are mainly for commercial vehicles including trucks, buses, and special-purpose vehicles.
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