Firefighters are closely watching fire at Columbus Panasonic

By Roslyn Giles  - email | bio

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - Columbus firefighters were called to Panasonic, the battery manufacturing plant, around 4:30 Thursday morning. 

It's located near Schatulga Road in the Corporate Ridge Business Park.

The overnight shift had just ended and most of the workers were gone home by the time an oven started to overheat.

The large oven makes car batteries that contains lithium strips and magnesium, a chemical compound, that can be very dangerous if exposed into the air, according to Richard Valentini, Battalion Chief.   "Workers took a fire extinguisher and put the fire out. We can't put water on it because its oxidizers will make it worse than better. Its got magnesium in there. We're just watching it until it burns itself out."

Valentini added, as long as the oven stays closed, he doesn't anticipate the situation getting any worse. 

Firefighters are staying on the scene for several hours to make sure the situation doesn't escalate.

News Leader 9 is following this story. We'll bring you the latest information as soon as it becomes available.

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