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Michigan Factory Fire Kills 3

July 15, 2001|From Associated Press

RIVERVIEW, Mich. — A rail car exploded and sparked a fire at a chemical factory, killing three employees and injuring at least nine Saturday.

Hundreds of homes were evacuated after the explosion at the ATOFINA Chemicals Inc. plant.

The victims were employees Edwin J. Wrobleski, 47; Kenneth J. Cox, 56; and Terry Stein, 41, authorities said.

"This is the worst thing I can remember in the plant's history," said company engineer Ron Potier said.

Two injured factory workers were treated at Riverview Hospital for respiratory problems from inhaling fumes, said spokeswoman Jackie Swearingten. One was released.

Seven were in stable condition and were treated for exposure to fumes at the Oakwood Health Care System, said spokesman Ken Bearden.

The rail car containing a dangerous chemical exploded about 4:30 a.m. at the factory, Potier said.

By noon, the fire was under control. Hazardous material specialists were en route from Texas to clean up the chemicals.

About 400 homes were evacuated in Grosse Ile, across the Detroit River from this suburban community. Another 40 homes were evacuated near the factory, said Riverview fire Capt. Ken Williamson.

The north side of neighboring Trenton was also evacuated, but city fire Lt. Mitch Jensen said he didn't know how many people were affected.

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