A worker from Southern Indiana was killed and
three other workers were injured in an explosion and fire Monday afternoon at
Rubbertown’s Carbide Industries plant, with Louisville police warning residents
within a mile to stay inside and close their doors and windows.
Doug Hamilton, the city’s emergency
management director, said the warning turned out to be unnecessary, although he
said it wasn’t a bad idea. An air test around the plant detected no danger, he
“There is no risk to the community right now,
and hasn’t been,” Hamilton said from the scene, adding that the warning should
have been lifted sooner.
Several nearby residents who depend on
telephone alerts to find out when a chemical plant leak occurs were livid that
the system had no report on the Carbide Industries fire nearly two hours after
“I am so furious right now,” said Terri
Humphrey, a resident of Riverside Gardens, south of the plant but just beyond
the one-mile warning zone.
The fire, reported at 5:40 p.m. at the plant
at 4400 Bells Lane, involved calcium carbide, which Hamilton said poses an
inhalation hazard if someone comes in close contact with it. Water can’t be
used on calcium-carbide fires because it produces acetylene gas, he said.
Four workers, two of whom had
life-threatening injuries, were taken to University Hospital, said Capt. Sal
Melendez, spokesman for Louisville Fire & Rescue. One who later died was
identified as Steven Nichols, 59, of Charlestown, Ind., according to deputy
Jefferson County coroner Sam Weakley.
Another worker was released late Monday
night, said hospital spokesman David McArthur.
Of the three surviving workers, two were
Carbide Industries employees and one worked at a neighboring plant, said John
Gant, general manager of Carbide Industries. He said 17 employees were in the
plant at the time.
The fire blew out one side of the furnace
that occupies two floors of the five-story building and can reach 3,800-degrees
Fahrenheit. “When the building exploded, it threw a lot of this very hot
material out over a long, broad area,” Gant said.
Read More at: courier-journal.com