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Several injured, 2 critically, in explosion at Illinois steel plant

March 07, 2013|By Marisa Gerber
  • This image from video provided by KMOV-TV in St. Louis shows an injured worker being wheeled from the American Steel plant in Granite City, Ill., where an explosion injured several people.
This image from video provided by KMOV-TV in St. Louis shows an injured worker… (Courtesy KMOV-TV in St.…)

An explosion Thursday morning at a steel plant near St. Louis injured at least nine people, two of them critically, and spurred an investigation by federal workplace safety officials.

Firefighters in Granite City, Ill., just east of the Missouri state line, got a call about 8 a.m. to respond to an explosion at American Steel, Fire Chief Tim Connolly told the Los Angeles Times.

When fire officials arrived at the plant, employees told them they suspected it was a natural gas explosion, Connolly said, adding that firefighters stayed on the scene for about an hour to investigate.

“Nothing piqued our interest enough to see it any further, other than it was an industrial accident,” Connolly said, adding that federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration will take over.

Federal investigators were en route to Granite City on Thursday morning, OSHA spokesman Scott Allen told The Times. He said they will investigate what caused the explosion and whether the company violated any federal workplace safety regulations.

The seven people taken to Gateway Regional Medical Center for smoke inhalation were in stable condition Thursday morning, hospital spokeswoman Kate Allaria told The Times.

Two others were taken by helicopter to a larger hospital in St. Louis with “various degrees of burns,” Connolly said. Mercy Hospital spokeswoman Bethany Pope said the two patients were both in critical condition.

Firefighters have responded to American Steel for various incidents in the past, Connolly said. “This is probably the biggest one we’ve gone to as far as injuries.”

American Steel didn’t return a call for comment.

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marisa.gerber@latimes.com


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