Steel Mill Explosion Rocks Knoxville, Sends 6 To Hospital

Friday, 16 May 2014 12:51 PM

By Nick Sanchez

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An explosion at a steel mill in Knoxville, Tennessee, sent 6 injured workers to the hospital Thursday night, including one who was critically burned. Residents in nearby neighborhoods said the blast could be heard from blocks away.

"It shook the whole house, I thought it busted some windows. I heard car alarms going off so when I ran outside to my front porch I saw smoke blowing out of every end of the whole factory," witness Shane Nichols told ABC's WATE 6 Knoxville.

The Knoxville Fire Department Captain, D.J. Corcoran, told reporters, "The plant, what they do is melt scrap metals down and somewhere in the process there was an explosion."

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Fire teams and other local officials were still trying to determine on Friday just what caused the explosion at the Gerdau Ameristeel Mill in north Knoxville.

Five of the six injured were released from the hospital the same night they were admitted, but the sixth, Larry Releford, was immediately admitted to the Vanderbilt Burn Unit in Nashville "with burns on 55% of his body," according to WVLT Knoxville.

"We don't know if it was a steam burn or a metal burn," said Corcoran the night of the explosion.

"I could feel it in my chest when it blew up. It sounded like a bomb going off. Nothing like I ever felt or heard in my life," said local man Ryan McClane, The Associated Press reported.

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