9 Workers Injured After Explosion At Amsted Rail

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GRANITE CITY, IL (KTVI) – An explosion at a steel plant in Granite City Thursday morning injured 9 workers.  It happened just after 8 a.m. at the Amsted Rail Company.  The force of the blast sent workers flying through the air. Clifford McIntyre, a steel worker, went to helped his fellow employees who were injured.

He said, "All I heard was an explosion when I went back to see what was going on I seen a couple of my Union brothers out and on fire."

Fire Chief Tim Connolly said, "They said there was a gas explosion."  United Steel Union V.P. Bobby Washington was working inside the plant. "When the explosion happened they don't know what it was but it blew workers from their job and they were damaged and burning," he said.

Workers became one, rescuing the injured. McIntyre said, "First reaction was to put him out with my jacket and then another union brother came over with a fire extinguishers and put him out."

Two of the workers were airlifted the Mercy Hospital's burn unit.  The seven others were treated at Gateway Regional Medical Center.  Connolly said, "They looked like they were in some kind of coal mine work. Their faces were black around their mouths."

He said paramedics worried about the victims who may have inhaled superheated gases. "They'll breathe that in. It will burn everything all the way down. It will affect he lungs we can't see those things," he stated.

Company officials said their employees' well being is their top priority.  Amsted makes parts of the wheel assembly for train cars.  The explosion happened in an area called the cleaning and finishing department.  McIntyre said, "It was real scary and upset. I ain't seen nothing like that in my life and when I seen it, I was like in shock."  Washington added, "Very frightening, emotions are still high."

OSHA has investigated two complaints at the company in the past five years. It found no violations. At last report the two men being treated in the burn union were in critical condition.  Four of the seven other victims were treated and released from the Granite City hospital.