Cleveland-Cliffs Burns Harbor Explosion

Slag pit explosion felt throughout Northwest Indiana

Photo: Courtesy of Randal White

Photo: Courtesy of Randal White

Audrey White, Sandscript Author

On Tuesday, November 30th, Cleveland-Cliffs located in Burns Harbor housed an explosion reportedly heard as far away as Crown Point. The explosion occurred in the steel mill’s slag pit. Slag is a by-product of steel that is properly disposed of in pits where it hardens as the temperature decreases. Slag explosions are not unheard of and can arise when liquid slag is exposed to moisture. Thankfully in the local explosion, no one was injured and there were signs of only minor damage.


The smoke plume was visible from Chesterton and the explosion was felt as far as Portage. The explosion caused houses and buildings to shake. Some people explained that they heard several booming noises before seeing smoke materialize in the sky.


An anonymous source revealed, “I was very concerned as there was a reddish-rust colored plume floating over my house and that it was full of toxic chemicals [from an industrial explosion].”


Police and fire units reached Cleveland-Cliffs and officials reported that everything was under control at the steel mill. NWI Times spoke with USW District 7 Director Mike Millsap who communicated to the press that the explosion did not cause a disruption with work on Tuesday, when the occurrence took place.