Thundering blasts take down Steubenville furnaces

STEUBENVILLE – Two 100-year-old blast furnaces at the former RG Steel Corp. Steubenville plant crumbled in two thundering blasts and clouds of dust Thursday afternoon, officially ending a steelmaking era in the city.

The demolition of the two blast furnaces by the Joseph B. Fay Co. of Pittsburgh are part of a major cleanup of the steel mill site that is now owned by Strauss Industries of Wheeling as it transforms the property into an industrial park area.

Fay employees had spent weeks preparing for the controlled explosive demolition of the towering iron structures that produced molten iron for more than a century.

Earlier Thursday, the demolition crew could be seen placing the C-4 charges on the columns or “legs” that supported the 120-foot-tall furnaces.

The No. 2 furnace fell at 3:28 p.m., when the explosive charges could be witnessed flashing across the columns. But the No. 1 furnace did not go quietly and required the demolition crew to return to the base of the furnace to reset charges that took that structure down at 5:14 p.m.

“It was a successful job. The blast furnaces are on the ground, and no one was hurt,” said a Fay employee.