5 Hospitalized, 2 With Critical Injuries, Following Plant Explosion in Downtown Tucson, Arizona
Five people were hospitalized Wednesday night, following an explosion and fire at a jojoba oil processing plant in downtown Tucson, Arizona.
At least two of those individuals suffered critical injuries and were said to be fighting for their lives.
Explosion Created Giant Fire Ball, Blew Roof Off Desert Whale Processing Plant
The explosion was reported shortly before midnight on November 8th at the Desert Whale Jojoba Company’s processing facility in the 2100 block of East Beverly Drive.
At least one witness reported hearing a loud boom, which was followed by “a giant fireball.”
Crews arrived on the scene to find the building in flames and partially collapsed. The force of the blast blew the roof off the Desert Whale plant and onto the road.
Firefighters were able to keep the 2-alarm blaze from spreading to nearby buildings, despite dealing with access issues that included downed power lines and a broken gas line.
5 of 6 Desert Whale Employees Injured in Explosion
Desert Whale grows and processes jojoba oil for use in cosmetics and skin care products. According to its website, the company owns and operates “the largest organic jojoba farm anywhere”, with more than 2,000 producing acres in the Arizona desert, just 250 miles west of Tucson.
Six Desert Whale employees were working at the processing plant when the explosion occurred. Five were transported to the hospital, while a sixth did not require treatment.
Two of the employees were flown to Phoenix for treatment of their “extensive injuries.” The remaining three have since been released from the hospital.
Desert Whale Fire Likely a Total Loss
It took 50 firefighters more than 2 hours to bring the Desert Whale fire under control. Crews remained on the scene for hours to extinguish hot spots.
A damage estimate for the fire has not been released, However, the Tucson Fire Department has indicated that it will likely be deemed a total loss.
The cause of the explosion is still under investigation.
Desert Whale issued a statement on Thursday thanking responders for their efforts.
“We are working with our internal safety and technical team as well as outside services and government agencies to understand more around last night’s events,” the company said.
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