OMAHA, Nebraska (Reuters) — Explosions in
two U.S. states, one at an animal feed plant in Nebraska and another at
a steel plant in Oklahoma, killed at least four people and injured
almost a dozen on Monday, authorities said.
An explosion and fire flattened part of an animal feed plant in
Omaha, Nebraska, killing two people and injuring at least 10 others,
In the Omaha incident, about 38 employees were working at the
International Nutrition plant at midmorning when there was an
explosion and part of the building collapsed, interim Fire Chief
Bernard Kanger told a news conference.
One body has been recovered and the other is expected to be
recovered on Tuesday from the industrial accident, Kanger said. Of
the 10 injured, four were in critical condition, he said.
All employees have been accounted for, but authorities are not sure
if there were any visitors in the plant, he said.
In a separate incident, two workers likely "burned to death" when a
furnace exploded at about 4 p.m. local time at an Oklahoma steel
plant, a Marshall County Sheriff's Office dispatcher said.
A third person was injured at Mid American Steel and Wire in Madill,
Oklahoma, but treated for burns and released from a local hospital,
said Madill Fire Department Fire Chief Keith Pruitt.
The identities of those killed and injured were not immediately
known, the officials said.
The plant, which was established in 2004, according to its website,
did not respond to requests for comment. It is about 120 miles
southeast of Oklahoma City.
Officials said investigations into the causes of both explosions and
the fire would take days, if not weeks.
In the Omaha, Nebraska, incident, Forklift operator Kendrick Houston
told the Omaha World-Herald newspaper he was returning to work from
a break when the floor began to tremble.
"There was this real loud
crackling sound and the lights went off," Houston was quoted as
saying on the paper's website. "I saw a spark and there was a big
ball of flame coming from the southwest corner of the building."
Houston said he fled the building. He then tried to go back in to
find his co-workers, but heat and smoke forced him to turn back, he
Nate Lewis, a production line worker, told the newspaper that the
building caved in from the third floor. He also said it turned pitch
black inside the plant, and that he crawled through the rubble to
About 50 Omaha firefighters battled the blaze and rescued five
people from the rubble, Kanger said.
Representatives of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and
Explosives and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration
(OSHA) were also at the scene.
The grain handling industry, which includes feed plants, is
considered "high hazard," due partly to the risk of fires and
explosions from the accumulation of combustible grain dust,
according to the OSHA website.
OSHA, along with the Office of the State Fire Marshal, was also
investigating the Oklahoma blast, Pruitt said.
Privately owned International Nutrition makes feed, vitamins and
nutritional products for animals.
(Reporting by Katie Schubert in Omaha, Nebraska; and Eric M. Johnson
in Seattle; editing by Edith Honan, Ellen Wulfhorst, G Crosse, Eric
Walsh and Lisa Shumaker)