COLUMBUS, Ohio – One person was killed andeight others injured Thursday after an explosion sparked a fire at a paint factory.
The two-alarm blaze started around midnight at Majestic Paints in the city’s Near East and involved at least one explosion. The paint company that had a history of workplace safety violations, including potentially fatal violations, according to a federal workplace investigation.
About 40 employees were in the building when the fire broke out. Fire officials said many workers were able to evacuate on their own, but two had to be rescued by fire crews.
One had suffered severe burns and was reportedly trapped between a railing and another object until a rescue team could extract and remove this person in a Stokes basket, according to fire radio traffic. .
A total of eight people were taken to hospitals in the region. All are now considered stable.
Battalion Chief Steve Martin said fire crews were able to locate an employee who had not been found as the blaze continued to burn.
Andrew Smith, CEO of Yenkin-Majestic Paint Corp., said in a statement Thursday afternoon that the company was “deeply saddened” by the explosion and fire. The company has been in business since 1920.
“As a family business, our current focus is on the family of the deceased, Wendell Light, as well as the health and well-being of our injured colleagues and their families,” said Smith. “Our thoughts are also with our neighbors who have been affected by this incident.”
Company newsroom supervisor Wendell Light, 44, was found around 9:15 a.m. and was partially covered in rubble inside the collapsed building. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
There were additional explosions when the fire burned, Martin said, including at least one other building on the Majestic Paints campus that is within 100 feet of the main building which was on fire.
James Scales, 52, was in bed when he felt the explosion in his home a few miles north.
“It rocked my whole house,” he said. “We jumped out of bed. I thought a car hit my house. I think the house moved.”
A man stood alone Thursday morning, looking at the factory across the street.
Asked by a reporter if he worked there, he replied: “I was supposed to work last night”.
Not allowed to speak, he said it was to be his first night shift as a team leader, replacing someone who wanted to work during the day.
The US Army veteran described the video of the explosion as “Iraq again”.
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