2 Paint Plant Explosions Injure 3
Two explosions and a massive fire at a coatings plant near Chicago this week injured three people and sparked panic in the surrounding area.
The first explosion shook Fox Valley Systems Inc. about 1:20 p.m. Wednesday (March 6), followed several minutes later by a large fire.
The company, located in an industrial park in Cary, IL, manufactures traffic, athletic, and marking paint and striping equipment. Cary is about 45 northwest of Chicago.
As firefighters worked to extinguish the blaze, a second explosion about 2:45 p.m. intensified the situation. After the second blast, firefighters were pulled away from the building and "went into a defensive position" to prevent the fire from spreading, CBS Chicago reported.
Three workers were taken to a local hospital, but the extent of their injuries has not been reported.
The explosions blew out both the front and back walls of the building as flames and heavy smoke poured out, several local media outlets reported. Between 25 and 35 nearby buildings were evacuated as a precaution.
Firefighters from 15 departments battled the fire for several hours, and a hazardous materials foam truck was brought in to help tame the flames.
The chemical nature of the fire was not immediately known, Cary Police Chief Steve Casstevens told CBS Chicago.
Officials have not determined what led to the explosions.
The company did not immediately respond to a request Thursday (March 7) for more information.
An employee from a business across the street starting filming after the first explosion and caught the second explosion (at 1:26 into the video) as well as several minutes of the resulting fire and efforts from first responders.
The Cary Fire Department, the State Fire Marshal, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration were expected to start an investigation Thursday (March 7).
Fox Valley Systems has received several OSHA citations in the past. Most recently, in 2009, the company was cited with two serious violations involving heavy machinery. In 2004, OSHA also issued two serious violations, citing standards for "general requirements" and "hazardous (classified) locations."
Like a 'Plane Crashed'
Employees from nearby businesses commented on the story on NBC Chicago's Facebook page.
"I work half a block down, and we felt the building shake from the explosion. I'm now watching the feed from the helicopter we hear over us. Haz-Mat from nearby Wauconda is now en route," commented Scott Hoffman.
Another post, from Michael Ginsberg, said, "I work directly across the street. We all felt our whole building shake. I thought a small plane crashed on the roof. Went outside and saw the fire/flames. Fire department evacuated all surrounding businesses, so we had to leave."
Ginsberg recorded a video clip that captured the second explosion, followed by several minutes of emergency responders and evacuations taking place.
One post on the page, from Beth Gurdak, which indicated that it had been edited, stated, "I cannot believe this place has been allowed to stay open, especially where it is located and with what goes on inside! This place has been a danger for many years! I hope everyone is safe."
People in the area during the explosions said that it felt like "a small plane crashed." OSHA has cited the paint company for serious violations in the past.
In business since 1970, Fox Valley Systems describes itself as "The original marking and striping company," as well as stating that it created the first aerosol spray can that works upside-down.