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Corning back to work after fire

READ MORE: Corning back to work after fire

WILMINGTON -- Corning employees are heading back to work Monday night. A fire Sunday afternoon damaged part of the Wilmington plant.

Corning workers say the fire looked much worse than it actually was. Now there's more work to be done.

Corning Optical Fiber looked and smelled much different Monday. Twenty-four hours earlier it was a much different scene: 12 fire trucks and smoke so thick, at one point you couldn't see across College Road.

"Mostly what was burning was roof material, and there's a duct on our roof that exhausts heat from the plant and that is what was actually burning," said plant manager Karl Ehemann.

Ehemann says repairs to Tower 5 will being as soon as the necessary materials arrive. In the meantime, employees are heading back to work.

"We suspended operations yesterday, and we have partial operations today," Ehemann said. "We'll be a full operation today by 7 p.m."

Corning is the biggest glassmaking company in the world. Ehemann says the fire is not holding up operations.

"It's important to us, after the safety of our employees and the environment, is that we take care of our customers and our customers will not be affected by this," Ehemann said. "We've got plenty of inventory to satisfy all of our demand."

Corning is one of the only optical fiber plants with firefighters on site, which is likely why the fire wasn't much worse.

"We have a structural fire brigade on board here that has trained with the Wilmington Fire Department over the course of years, and all that paid off yesterday," Ehemann said. "I'm so proud of them and our first responders and all our employees."

Firefighters say a malfunction that led to a part overheating caused the fire. Corning managers met today to discuss ways to keep a fire like this from happening again.

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