A stamping company in Howell had to evacuate a portion of their building after a piece of machinery caught fire this afternoon.

The Howell Area Fire Department responded to reports of a structure fire around 12:30pm at Hatch Stamping Company’s Robotic Welding Plant on Austin Court, off M-59. Hatch Stamping Company is among the world leaders in highly engineered metal stampings and assemblies for the automotive industry. Fire Chief Andy Pless tells WHMI one of the robot machines at the plant caught fire. Pless says crews arrived and extinguished the fire very quickly and then focused on funneling smoke out of the building. A third-party contractor was doing some work overhead and a spark flew, catching the machine on fire.

No injuries were reported but part of the facility had to be evacuated due to smoke inside. Pless says damage was limited to the machine that caught fire but the shop area was filled with smoke and it took about half an hour to get that cleared out. He noted the machine that caught fire was an expensive piece of equipment and costs around $80,000-$90,000. Once everything is cleaned up, the company can get back into production. (JM)