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An explosion occurred at a factory in McCook, Ill. on April 27. According to the Chicago Tribune, the cause of the explosion is unknown.
The next day, the situation was still not stable enough to be approached for investigation. The 60,000 square foot factory is home to Advanced Grinding Services, a metals grinding plant that specializes in precision centerless grinding and produces aluminum, brass, carbon and stainless steel bars.The factory has been in operation since 1994.
Five workers were in the building when the blast occurred at approximately 8p.m., and all were evacuated safely.
"We were on break sitting down and we just hear a boom. Then we go check and smoke's coming our way, so we just leave out the building," Ahmed Abdulla, an employee of Advanced Grinding Services, told CBS Chicago.
It is not clear if industrial fire alarms were set off by the smoke and fire, or if authorities were called to the scene, but firefighters soon arrived to find black smoke streaming from the factory, making it unsafe for firefighters to enter. The smoke was so thick that firefighters could not see inside the building. As the fire raged on, steel twisted under the heat and the ceiling collapsed, prompting the evacuation of nearby homes as well as all personnel onsite.
Oil is involved during the processes at the Advanced Grinding Services factory, which would explain the black plumes of smoke that blinded firefighters and made it unsafe for anyone to approach.
After the fire had been extinguished, residents were allowed back in their homes, but that doesn't mean the factory will resume practices any time soon. According to McCook Fire Chief Joseph Myrick, the factory will be shut down for at least a few days.
Factory fires and explosions are not uncommon even in today's modern workplace. Despite technological advancements and progressions in factories and plants across the United States, many production jobs still hold risks that can threaten lives.
Industrial Fire Prevention stresses the importance of risk management in preventing fires and other workplace accidents in industrial environments. Risk management is about controlling the probability of occurrence and acting accordingly, as complete elimination of risk is impossible.
Part of a prevention and a protection plan is investing in proper equipment to keep workers safe. Fire and gas detection systems and combustible gas leak detectors are a non-negotiable necessity for factories and plants to have in order to keep employees safe.
Industrial Safety News brought to you by Safety Systems Technology, Inc., leaders in fire and gas detection systems.