One worker was tragically killed earlier today and more than a dozen others were hospitalized after a massive explosion destroyed a metal alloy factory in Oakwood Village, Ohio.
Blast Sent Molten Metal into Surrounding Neighborhood
The earth-shattering explosion erupted shortly after 3:00 p.m. at I Schumann & Co., a metal alloy processing facility located at 22500 Alexander Road near Bedford. The force of the blast launched molten metal and debris into the surrounding neighborhood, while the resulting fire produced plumes of thick, black smoke visible for miles.
“Things were falling off the walls, falling off shelves,” an employee of a nearby business told Reuters. “We went out front, and there was like smoldering rocks and molten metal in the yard. Tons and tons of smoke. Fire billowing out of the building across the street.”
Another reported hearing at least two explosions strong enough to take down the entire brick wall enclosing the property.
“A beam flew across the street. That other beam flew across the street and blew out our window,” the witness said. “Exciting, but horrible.”
46-Year-Old Man Tragically Killed, 2 I Schumann & Co. Workers in Critical Condition
The Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner’s Office has since confirmed that a 46-year-old man died as a result of the explosion. The majority of the injured suffered burns of varying degrees. All were plant employees.
“The people were mostly walking wounded. They were coming up to us,” Oakwood Fire Department Captain Brian DiRocco told Reuters. “I’m sure there’s a lot of people that work here that were in shock.”
MetroHealth Medical Center later confirmed that it was treating four patients in connection with the I Schumann & Co. explosion, including two in critical condition. University Hospitals Ahuja Medical Center in Beachwood said it was treating seven others.
Earlier I Schumann & Co. Explosion Injured 5 in 2006
Located roughly 15 miles southeast of Cleveland, Ohio, I Schumann & Co. has been in business since 1917 and produces copper, brass, and bronze alloys.
While DiRocco noted that previous inspections had found the facility to be safe “except for the fact that it’s a foundry. You are dealing with molten metal, so there’s always an inherent danger,” the company does have a recent history of workplace safety violations.
In fact, molten metal triggered another explosion at the same facility in 2006, resulting in minor injuries to five employees.
In March 2010, another I Schumann & Co. employee suffered third-degree burns when molten metal caused his clothes to catch fire. The Occupational Safety & Health Administration eventually cited the plant for five safety violations in connection with that incident, resulting in a fine of more than $12,000.
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