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A fire at an Alabama metal fabricator injures two employees

Posted on by SST

A fire that led to an explosion forced workers into a nearby hospital after sustaining injuries.

According to Mobile, Alabama's FOX affiliate, a small explosion occurred in the UTC Aerospace Systems complex located at 1300 Fern Avenue in Foley, Ala., on June 21, injuring two workers who were reportedly cutting steel. Mike Thompson, a city administrator, said that an employee was using a torch to weld a drum that most likely still had combustible vapors in it. 

"Apparently he didn't properly vacate the vapors out of the drum and the drum exploded," Thompson told The Huntsville Times. "There's not any further damage over at UTC. It's just a localized explosion where he was working, but not any major damage that I'm aware of at the plant."

One worker was rushed to the South Baldwin Regional Medical Center for treatment. The second worker was airlifted to USA Medical Center's Burn Unit for treatment of significant injuries. There were over 800 employees scattered throughout the six building complex, all of whom were evacuated, noted a UTC spokesperson.

UTC Aerospace systems carries a number of hazardous materials and explosive chemicals used to do everything, from rebuilding engines to metal fabrication. Joey Darby, fire chief of the Foley fire department, noted he was grateful the explosion was isolated. It was unclear if a fire alarm system was triggered by the blast.

"The situation was well under control," said Darby. "UTC, being a manufacturing facility and industrial facility, has a response team and a response plan. They activated that plan. They did a very good job of evacuating the building, evacuating the area, but also responding to the incident at hand. They had it well under control when we arrived, which made our job so much easier."

Industrial Safety News brought to you by Safety Systems Technology, Inc., leaders in fire and gas detection systems.

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