Five Hurt in Glass Plant Gas Blast

Wednesday, June 7, 2017 @ 12:06 PM gHale

Smoke billows from Guardian Glass after a gas explosion injured five people.

Five people suffered injuries in a gas explosion at Guardian Glass in DeWitt, IA, Saturday.

The explosion occurred at 7 p.m. Saturday and five employees required medical attention, but all of them have been released with minor injuries.

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Crews are assessing the extent of the damage to the east side of the plant.

A Guardian spokesperson says the explosion involved natural gas, but the exact cause is still under investigation.

The company said the company will remain shut down until the plant is ruled safe for operation.

Guardian Glass is one of the largest employers in the DeWitt area, employing around 300 people.

A Guardian spokeswoman said in a statement: “At this time, we are focused on recovery, both ensuring a safe work environment and returning to operational status.”

The DeWitt plant opened in 1996 and makes glass for window customers and commercial fabricators. It also produces high-speed tempered glass and mirrors. Last year Guardian announced plans to repair a float glass furnace and expand glass production. It was also adding environmental controls to settle EPA Clean Air Act violations. The company and local inspectors have been watching the $17 million project very closely.

DeWitt building inspector Giles Looney had been monitoring the plant two to three times every week for the last six weeks. He has been watching the job since the company filed its building permits last July.

Looney said he’s never had any issues with the work that was being done. He said Guardian inspectors were always monitoring the project as tightly as he was.

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