KUROISO, Japan (Sept. 8, 2003)—A major fire Sept. 8 at Bridgestone Corp.'s Tochigi plant in northeastern Japan halted production and forced nearby residents to evacuate, the Tokyo-based tire maker said.
The fire broke out about noon Monday (1 a.m. ET) in the plant's rubber mixing process and still was burning six hours later, the tire maker said in a statement issued about 6 p.m. local time. No injuries were reported. It is unclear when production could resume at the plant, and more information likely will be unavailable until Sept. 9 as a result of the 11-hour time difference.
The Tochigi plant produces passenger, light truck and truck/bus radial tires as well as hard urethane foam and other materials. It has an estimated tire capacity of 22,000 units per day, according to Tire Business statistics. The plant employs 856 workers.
A spokeswoman at Bridgestone/Firestone North American Tire said North American tire supply—particularly for truck and bus tires—should not be affected. Much of these tires built for North America come from the tire maker's Warren County, Tenn., plant, she said.