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Dust explosion at North Carolina mulch plant

23 March 2012

A blast on March 20 at the Precision Fibers plant in Ronda left four employees with burns and resulted in two firefighters suffering heat exhaustion. The explosion, in a silo storing dust used to make grow mulch out of old newspapers, gave the four workers facial and head burns, and the most seriously injured also had tracheal burns from inhaling hot air.

Four employees were injured in the incident
Four employees were injured in the incident

The fire department said the fire apparently started from a spark created by one of the grinders used to convert old newspapers and cardboard to mulch. Smouldering mulching material spread through the system until it built up enough heat and pressure to explode into a room where workers were tending packaging machines.

The blaze was quickly extinguished by a combination of the plant’s overhead sprinkler system, employees with fire extinguishers and efforts of firefighters.

Substances involved in the incident included dyes, and the workers were given full HazMat treatment on arrival in hospital.

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