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A massive Oct. 24 explosion inside the Ciudad Juarez-based Dulces Blueberry factory claimed at least one fatality and left dozens injured, reported the Associated Press.
Factory worker Ismael Bouchet said the explosion occurred on the second floor causing it to collapse, resulting in injuries for workers on both the top and bottom floors. Although the exact cause of the fire is still pending, Bouchet remembered a steam boiler was recently installed on the second floor.
In addition, an acidic smell was detected in the area by several employees. However they did not take action because it was not unusual to smell acid after a recent appliance installation, Bouchet said.
Fernando Mota, the city's civil protection director said six of the 40 workers injured were in serious condition while his crews searched for missing employees believed to be trapped under the rubble.
Dulces employs approximately 300 employees, nearly all from Juarez, and is partnered with a distributor in El Paso, Texas, across the border from Juarez. Ciudad Juarez itself has become a burgeoning manufacturing nerve center in recent years as U.S. based companies continue to move manufacturing hubs from China's declining market into Mexico as their global presence expands, according to Reuters.
More and more manufacturing companies are making the move as senior research analyst Joseph Langley believes Mexico is, "quickly turning into the China of the West." Low wages, freedom from restricting global free-trade agreements and a supportive supply base have all attributed to it's booming business and has helped serve as the basis for further legitimization as an established global competitor.
Automotive factories taking notice
Among the many industries taking notice of border town manufacturing options are automotive companies such as Toyota and Mercedes-Benz, who have announced they expect to drop $2 billion in deals with Mexico in the next few years. Many car producers from the U.S. have been outsourcing to Mexico since World War II and don't appear to be changing that dynamic anytime soon, stating existing automotive factories should be receiving $1 billion in updates.
Langley said he expects Mexico could be responsible for producing one in four vehicles driven in the United States, an increase from the current ratio of one in six, by 2020.
With the increase in plants comes an opportunity to install an updated fire alarm system in new and old factories in an effort to avoid catastrophes such as that of the Dulces factory.
Industrial Safety News brought to you by Safety Systems Technology, Inc., leaders in fire and gas detection.