Hsinchu gas plant fire likely caused by transformer unit malfunction

05/19/2022 07:12 PM
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CNA photo May 19, 2022
CNA photo May 19, 2022

Taipei, May 19 (CNA) A fire that broke out at the Air Liquide Far Eastern (ALFE) plant in the Hsinchu Science Park Thursday morning was likely caused by the malfunction of transformer units installed in the building, the Hsinchu Fire Bureau said.

The blaze was extinguished at around 12:30 p.m. and no one was injured in the incident, the fire bureau told CNA Thursday.

Seventy firefighters and 20 fire trucks were deployed to the site to put out the fire, which likely stemmed from the transformer equipment housed on the first floor of the six-floor ALFE building, the bureau said, based on its preliminary investigation.

The blaze then spread to the second floor,the bureau said, adding that it is still determining the cause of the fire.

Lin Tsai-hsuan (林采煖), an assistant manager at ALFE, said later Thursday that staffers working in the building were able to evacuate in time when a fire was reported at around 10 a.m.

The fire started on the first floor, probably due to the overheating of the transformers, Lin said.

The ALFE facility at the Hsinchu Science Park is currently nearing completion after construction began in November 2020, Lin said, adding that the site was still in its testing phase.

According to ALFE's website, the company is a joint venture between France's Air Liquide Group and Taiwan's Far Eastern Group. The company provides gas supplies and services for the Taiwanese electronics industry, general industry, and medical industry, as well as homes.

The new Hsinchu plant is being built to meet the growing demand for gas supplies from Taiwan's semiconductor manufacturers, she explained.

Earlier Thursday, the Hsinchu Science Park Bureau Deputy Director-General Chen Shu-chu (陳淑珠) said the fire had caused a temporary disturbance in power supply (voltage drop) at the park, but no power outage occurred.

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC), the world's largest contract chipmaker, said that operations at its Hsinchu site were not affected by the incident.

Powerchip Semiconductor Manufacturing Corp. (PSMC), meanwhile, said its production was only partially interrupted as some of its equipment did not have generators as backup, and that it was still assessing the impact from the supply disturbance.

(By Chen Chien-chung, Su Szi-yun, Kup Hsuan-ping and Ko Lin)

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