We were first to smelt chromium. And then the fire happened (Soo Today – July 7, 2020)


From the archives of the Sault Ste. Marie Public Library:

Sault Ste. Marie’s Chromium Mining and Smelting Corporation plant was located on Queen Street West between Huron and Hudson, in the area of what is now the city’s transit facility.

The plant first began smelting chromium in in the 1930s, when it was the first instance of chromium smelting in the British Empire. From there, the plant quickly expanded to meet demand.

And then, in 1947, a fire roared through part of Sault Ste. Marie, originating from the plant.

Initial reports in the Globe and Mail described a “terrific blast” that “rocked the city,” shaking buildings as far away as eight blocks. However, it was soon determined that there was no explosion at all: instead, it was a chemically-fed, incredibly violent fire.

The chemical in question was D-Sulf-X, a substance presumably used in the plant’s experimental laboratory, where the fire initially started. D-Sulf-X was “believed to burn with greater intensity in water,” proving a challenge for firefighters.

For the rest of this article: https://www.sootoday.com/columns/remember-this/we-were-first-to-smelt-chromium-and-then-the-fire-happened-1551069