SEOUL, South Korea — Hankook Tire & Technology Co. Ltd. has suspended production of tires at its factory in Daejeon, South Korea, following a fire that broke out at the plant on March 12.
According to a March 13 stock market filing, Hankook said the plant accounts for about 16.5% of its annual sales, amounting to over $750 million.
The fire, Hankook said, broke out at the curing process area, but local press quoting fire department officials report that it soon spread to a nearby storage area due to strong winds.
According to press reports, 210,000 tires were burned during the fire that lasted for 13 hours.
Hankook said it is examining the details of the accident and the direct and indirect losses due to the fire.
"We are working to minimize losses by promptly handling and recovering from the accident, (supported) by employees, management and executives," the company said.
Hankook said it plans to "minimize disruptions" by resuming work as soon as possible, although it said the expected date of resuming production and other changes will be disclosed as soon as details are finalized.
According to information from Hankook Tire USA: “The fire at the Daejeon Plant was completely extinguished around 8:00 a.m. local time on March 15. An investigation will be conducted and damage assessment will take place afterwards.
"Hankook Tire will review all possible solutions to ensure prompt restoration and will be operating a help desk for on-site support.”
In a brief statement to European Rubber Journal, Hankook Tire confirmed that 11 people had suffered from minor injuries due to "inhaling smoke."
"They have immediately been taken to hospital, sent home after [being] diagnosed that there have been no serious [health effects]," Hankook said.
The tire plant, it added, is "completely shut down at the moment."
The 44-year-old Daejeon factory is rated at 16.5 million units a year of passenger, light truck, truck/bus and racing tires, according to Tire Business' Global Tire Report.
Hankook operates one other factory in South Korea, in Geumsan, that produces passenger and light and medium truck tires. It's rated at 20.5 million units a year. It also has three factories in China, one in Hungary and one in the U.S., in Clarksville, Tenn.