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One Dead and Dozens Injured Following Explosions at Upstate New York Cosmetics Plant


One worker has died and dozens of others – including several firefighters – have been injured following two explosions at the Verla International cosmetics plant in New Windsor, New York.

The initial explosion at the Hudson Valley manufacturing facility was reported around 10:15 a.m. on Monday, November 20th. A second blast occurred at roughly 10:40 a.m.

Over 30 Fire Companies Respond to Verla International Plant Explosion

While their cause is still under investigation, officials believe the explosions may have been related to chemicals used at the plant.

More than 30 fire companies worked for hours to bring the resulting fire under control. Hazmat crews were also called to the scene due to concerns that the tall plumes of black smoke produced by the blaze may have posed a threat to people.

A shelter-in-place order issued for those living or working in the immediate vicinity of the Verla International plant has since been lifted.

Remains of Missing Verla International Employee Recovered Last Night

William Huntington, 57, of Newburgh, a long-time Verla International employee, was reported missing in the wake of the explosions. Tragically, his remains were discovered shortly after 7:30 p.m. last evening.

“Bill was a valued employee and we at Verla are sorry to his friends and family for their loss,” the company said in a statement.

“When We Got Downstairs, All We Saw Were Flames”

Witnesses indicate that the first explosion set off a frantic rush by employees to escape the building.

“When we got downstairs, all we saw were flames,” lab assistant Andrea Latorraca, 19, told the Associated Press. “Running across the street, get to the other side. All just people scared, everyone pushing, trying to get out.”

Many of the employees used scarves and other materials to avoid inhaling the thick smoke that quickly engulfed the plant. At least one woman collapsed.

“I couldn’t breathe,” Latorraca said. “My chest was hurting and I felt really bad chest pain, and my head was banging.”

7 Firefighters Injured in the Blast

The injured include 7 firefighters from the City of Newburgh, all of whom were hurt as a result of the second explosion.

“A wall came down after the explosion, came down on him and he fractured his right ankle. We’re so blessed because it could’ve been so much worse,” Saleema Muhammad, the wife of an injured fire lieutenant, told CBS New York.

Officials have indicated that the second blast was unexpected.

“We are always looking out for the possibility of that, but we do have a job,” Orange County Fire Commissioner Vini Tankalisi said.

While initial media reports suggested 33 people were injured in the incident, some local sources have indicated that as many as 125 people sought treatment at St. Luke’s Cornwall Hospital.

Two of the injured firefighters were taken to Westchester Medical Center for burns.

The majority of the remaining injuries are not considered life-threatening.

Verla International Hit with a Dozen Safety Violations This Year Alone

Located about 55-miles from New York City, Verla International employs around 100 people. The facility at 63 Temple Hill Road in New Windsor, Orange County, primarily manufactures nail polish, lipstick and perfume.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited the Verla International plant 12 times this year for violations involving maintenance, safeguards and operational features for exit routes, flammable and combustible liquids, eye and face protection, respiratory protection, and medical services/first aid.

Nine of the violations were deemed serious. The company currently has a payment penalty plan in place with OSHA for $63,000.00

The New York state departments of Labor, State and Environmental Conservation have launched a joint investigation into yesterday’s tragedy.  A statement from the Governor’s office indicated that the probe will focus on worker safety, conditions at the plant, compliance with environmental regulations and overall compliance.

Were You or a Loved One Injured in the Verla International Cosmetics Plant Explosion? Contact Our Undefeated Plant Explosion Lawyers for a Free Legal Consult by Calling 1-888-603-3636 or Click Here.

Having won more than $1 billion in record-setting settlements and verdicts for our clients, including hundreds of people seriously injured or tragically killed as a result of explosions at chemical plants and other industrial facilities throughout the United States, our Undefeated Plant Explosion Attorneys have the resources and skills needed to help ensure that injured workers and their families recover the maximum compensation possible for all of their injuries and losses.

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