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Bridgestone/Firestone plant is up and running again following fire

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Bridgestone/Firestone North American Tire LLC's Aiken County, S.C., plant is almost fully operational again following a fire Saturday night.

The fire occurred in one of the facility's three mixing areas when some of the rubber got under the conveyer belt and ignited (see March 14 news item, "Fire shuts down one-third of Bridgestone/Firestone plant").

The mixer was replaced quickly, and the plant is close to running at full strength, according to a Bridgestone/Firestone spokesman.

Although between 2,000 and 3,000 tires could have been manufacturered while the mixer was down, plant officials still expect to reach their production goals for the month.

The Aiken County plant, which began producing passenger and light truck tires in 1999, has the capacity to produce 24,000 tires a day, according to Modern Tire Dealer's 2004 Facts Issue.

The fire was the second suffered by the company in the last six months. Last September, a fire destroyed the rubber mixing area at Bridgestone Corp.'s Tochigi, Japan. The effects of the fire on the company's supply have carried over into this year.

At the time, Bridgestone calculated that the total adverse effect of the blaze would equal about 40 billion yen.

"That total includes direct losses from fire damage, reduced income attributable to lost sales in 2003 and 2004, and the cost of rebuilding and equipping a rubber mixing shop," said Brigdestone officials.

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