UPDATE 1-Renesas warns some production hit by Japan chip plant fire

(Adds detail of damage)

March 20 (Reuters) - Renesas Electronics, a key supplier of automotive semiconductors, said on Saturday that it had temporarily halted production of 300mm wafers after a fire at its advanced Naka chip plant in northeast Japan.

Friday’s fire, which did not injure any employees, burned 600 square metres of the 300mm clean room, including 2% of the manufacturing equipment, the Japanese company said.

Any delay to shipments would come as customers, particularly carmakers, are struggling with a global chip shortage due to the COVID-19-driven boom in consumer electronics and unexpected strong rebound in auto sales.

“The impacts to manufacturing equipment, work in process and the financial impacts to (the) company is undetermined,” Renesas said in a statement. It did not say when it intended to restart production at the damaged line.

Production at the rest of the plant was unaffected by the blaze, which was caused by an electrical fault which police and fire department officials are investigating, it added.

Renesas was forced to shut down production at the Naka plant for a few days in February after an earthquake cut power to the facility and back up generators failed to start.

The deadly earthquake that devastated Japan’s northeast coasts and destroyed the Fukushima nuclear plant a decade ago forced Renesas to close the facility for three months. (Reporting by Tim Kelly and Amruta Khandekar; Editing by Aditya Soni and Alexander Smith)