Two people were tragically killed yesterday morning, and three others suffered burns and other injuries when an explosion triggered a massive fire on the grounds of a welding plant near Miami, Florida.
Explosion Involved Several Semi-Trucks, Other Vehicles
Miami-Dade Fire Rescue received reports of an explosion at 11350 NW South River Drive in Medley, an address shared by three businesses: Alex Trucks Weld & General Repair, Laurie’s General Welding, and Eagle Commercial Truck Cleaning Service.
Crews arrived at the scene to find that several 18-wheelers and other vehicles had exploded and were on fire. Video taken by WSVN showed a large plume of black smoke over the area, where several semi-tractors, cars, and a building were engulfed in flames.
“Units deployed multiple hose lines to get the fire under control, all the while navigating downed power lines and a very hazardous scene,” Deputy Fire Chief Danny Cardeso told CBS Miami.
Fire crews were able to extinguish the fire by 10:00 a.m.
2 Dead at Scene, 2 Transferred to Trauma Center with Burns
Two people were pronounced dead at the scene
Three others were injured, including two people transferred to Ryder Trauma Center at Jackson Memorial Hospital with burn injuries, one by ambulance and the other by medical helicopter.
The third victim was treated at the scene.
Authorities have yet to identify any of the dead or injured, and it’s unclear if they worked at the welding company or if they were customers.
Medley Welding Plant Explosion Under Investigation
While it’s not yet known what caused the blast, it does appear that some form of hot work was involved.
“It seems that the company is a welding company,” Miami-Dade police Detective Luis Sierra told WLPG. “They were working on some heavy machinery, and right now, investigators are still trying to find out what caused this combustion.”
Miami-Dade Fire Rescue and Miami-Dade police homicide and arson detectives are investigating Tuesday’s explosion in Medley.
Welding, Other Hot Work Linked to 22 Deaths Every Year
According to the National Fire Protection Association, in the United States alone, fire departments respond to an average of 4,580 structure fires involving welding and other hot work annually, with nearly 60% occurring in non-residential settings.
On average, these incidents claim the lives of 22 people, injure 171 others, and cause $484 million in property damage every year.
The U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB) reports that hot work is one of the most common causes of worker death among the incidents it investigates. To prevent these tragedies, the Board recommends the following:
- Analyze the Hazards: A hazard assessment to identify the scope of the work, potential hazards, and hazard control methods should be performed before any work commences.
- Monitor the Atmosphere: A properly calibrated combustible gas detector should be used to monitor the area before and during hot work activities, even where a flammable atmosphere is not anticipated.
- Test the Area: In areas where flammable liquids and gases are stored or handled, all equipment and piping should be drained/purged before hot work begins. Storage tanks and other containers in the vicinity, as well as adjacent spaces, should be properly tested and continuously monitored for the presence of flammables.
- Obtain Written Permits: A qualified individual familiar with the specific site hazards should always review and authorize all hot work. That individual should also issue written permits specifically identifying the work to be conducted and the required precautions.
- Provide Adequate Training: Workers should be trained in hot work policies/procedures, as well as proper use of combustible gas detectors, safety equipment, and job specific hazards and controls. The training should be provided in language workers understand.
- Supervise Outside Contractors: Outside contractors should receive safety supervision while conducting hot work. They should also be informed about any site-specific hazards, including flammable materials.
- Use Alternatives: Hot work should be avoided and alternative methods considered whenever possible.
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