13 Hurt in Foundry Blast

Friday, November 1, 2013 @ 06:11 PM gHale

An explosion and fire last Friday at a foundry in South Chattanooga, TN, resulted in 13 workers suffering injuries.

There was an explosion at Designed Alloy Products at 3033 Alton Park Boulevard in South Chattanooga at 7:28 a.m. Witnesses ended up startled by how loud the explosion was, and could see smoke and sparks coming from the top of the large warehouse.

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The Chattanooga Fire Department responded with six fire companies. Captain Randy Steele with Engine 5 said the fire centered around a large furnace. Workers at the plant advised the firefighters not to put water on the furnace, because it could have made the situation worse. So Captain Steele said the firefighters used dry powder extinguishers on the furnace and hand-held hose lines to put water on the fires around the furnace. It took the firefighters 25 minutes to get the blaze under control.

The cause of the explosion remains under investigation. Lt. Andrew Waters with the Fire Investigation Division is the lead investigator.

Thirteen employees at the plant suffered injuries. Three suffered from smoke inhalation, and ended up treated on the scene. Three other employees went to a local hospital. Lt. Scott Powell with Hamilton County EMS (HCEMS) said two of the victims had relatively minor burns, but one victim suffered more serious injuries. The victim had second- and third-degree burns to approximately 10 to 15 percent of his body. He was going to a burn unit in the region.

Erlanger officials said Friday afternoon that seven additional “walk-in” patients showed up at their ER. Spokeswoman Pat Charles said all ended up treated and released.

In the meantime, the employee who received the worst burns from the explosion went to the Burn Center at Vanderbilt Hospital in Nashville for additional treatment. The other two victims originally transported to Erlanger had less serious injuries.

The cause of the explosion is under investigation.

Designed Alloy Products is a scrap recycler that makes certified ingots. A worker at the plant said that they were using the furnace to melt stainless steel, and the temperatures reach roughly 3,000 degrees.

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