Valdosta Explosion: Chemical Plant Shattered by Blasts, Fire (Video)

Thursday, 15 Aug 2013 09:05 AM

By Alexandra Ward

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A series of explosions rocked a chemical plant in Valdosta, Ga., on Wednesday, injuring three people and sparking a fire that burned for hours.

Valdosta fire officials responded to reports of an explosion at Perma-Fix of South Georgia, a plant located in the Gil Harbin Industrial Park, Wednesday around 2:30 p.m.

At first, witnesses mistook the initial blasts for thunder but soon it sounded "similar to Air Force bombers on a bombing run," Michael Rogers, owner of nearby Vanguard Aviation, told The Moultrie Observer.

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Perma-Fix disposes and processes items like aerosol spray cans, ink paste, and other materials, which exploded repeatedly for 30 to 40 minutes as the fire ripped through the plant.

With the help of Lowndes County sheriff's officials, Moody Air Force Base, the Georgia State Patrol, and the FBI, the Valdosta fire squad successfully evacuated the building, secured a one-mile safety perimeter, and got the fire under control by 4:30 p.m.

The three people who were severely injured were taken via LifeFlight helicopters to area hospitals, Valdosta Police Chief Brian Childress told the Valdosta Daily Times.

One of the victims was identified Wednesday by family members as Jamie Mitchell, who reportedly sustained burns along his arms and on his ear.

"I just could feel how scared he was," Mitchell's brother, Robert Frazier, told "How he was trying to get out of the way and plus he was wondering how the other guys were that were closer to the really bad part — you know. We just hope they be all right."

Perma-Fix put out a statement Wednesday about the accident.

"[Perma-Fix is] taking the incident very seriously and is focusing on the safety and security of our employees and the community," company spokeswoman Anne Smith told the Observer.

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Explosion at Louisiana Chemical Plant Kills 1, Injures 33  

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