A West Virginia chemical plant explosion has killed two men and injured two others. The explosion, at a processing facility of AL Solutions, occurred yesterday, near New Cumberland in West Virginia’s northern panhandle.
According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, AL Solutions makes alloy additives for the aluminum industry, and employs around 25 people. The facility where the blast occurred uses titanium powder, which is highly flammable and burns extremely hot. According to a report on WKBN.com, the facility held at least eight drums smoldering with titanium inside, and workers were processing titanium powder just before the explosion. It’s unclear whether the titanium caught fire and then exploded or exploded and then started the fire.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the New Cumberland police department and the West Virginia fire marshal are investigating the accident.
The two men who died in the explosion, Scott Fish, 39, and James Fish, 38, were brothers. The brothers were well-known in New Cumberland and had a reputation for being kind-hearted and generous, the Post-Gazette said.
A third employee, 27-year-old Steven Swain, was badly burned and was receiving surgery and other treatment at Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania hospital. He is listed in critical condition.
The second injured victim was Dave Williams, an outside contractor who was at the AL Solutions Inc. plant at the time. He is also being treated in Pittsburgh for burns to his hands and face.
According to WKBN.com, the explosion was reported around 1:30 p.m. yesterday. While the fire was brought under control by 4:00 p.m., it would be another hour before crews were able to reach the Fish brothers until the hot spots inside the building were cooled. The brothers were pronounced dead at the scene.
According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the AL Solutions facility has a reputation for being a dangerous place to work, and the Fish brothers’ deaths are the third and fourth fatalities at the facility in the past 15 years, though it was previously owned by another company.
AL Solutions said in a statement that the facility will be closed today in remembrance of the Fish brothers.