Elkhart, IN Industrial Plant Explosion, Jan 1976
'BUBBLY' LIQUID PRECEDES FIRE.
Elkhart, Ind. (UPI) -- Employes of an aerosol can factory saw a "red and bubbly" liquid coming out a drain shortly before a series of explosions and a fire injured three dozen persons and caused an estimated $1 million in damages.
Firemen said one person was missing in the blaze Wednesday at the Accra Pac Co., in a huge industrial park on the city's southeast side.
Fire Chief Roger Kindy said the search for GAIL PERNELL, a 23-year-old assembly line worker, would resume today. The search was halted late Wednesday by darkness and temperatures in the low teens.
An owner of the company said he believed custodian GERALD SHOEMAKER also was missing but firemen were unable to confirm SHOEMAKER had been at the plant.
Officials said 17 persons were hospitalized, seven with severe burns. Nineteen others, mostly police and firemen, reported to hospitals for treatment of minor injuries, smoke inhalation or safety checks by doctors concerned about possible effects of toxic gases in the air during the firefighthing operation. All but 11 of the victims were released by Wednesday night.
The most seriously injured were transferred to a burn unit at a hospital in Fort Wayne, south of this city near the Indiana-Michigan border.
Most of the 80 workers had been in the lunchroom when the explosions rocked the plant and triggered the blaze that could be seen 15 miles away at South Bend, Ind.
"We had just gotten off lunch and they had told us to go back to the break room after we found some kind of liquid coming up through the drain," said MRS. SUSAN ROWE, 23, who was treated for minor injuries and released from the hospital. "It was red and bubbly."
"There's a door on the break room and we could see the fire go right by us," said MRS. ROWE, who has worked on the plant's assembly line for a year.
The 75,000 square foot plant, which produces 800 different products for about 125 clients -- from hair spray to window cleaner and all using fluorocarbon propellants -- was declared a total loss with only parts of the front walls standing.
A fire official said what if the workers hadn't been in the "break" room. "God knows how many would have been killed."
Pampa Daily News Texas 1976-01-08
ELKHART VICTIMS LISTED.
Elkhart, Ind. (UPI) - Law enforcement officials late Wednesday released the following identities on persons injured or reported missing in an explosion at the Accra Pac Co. factory in Elkhart.
Treated and released from Elkhart General Hospital:
Admitted to Elkhart General Hospital in fair condition:
Transferred to St. Joseph's Hospital in Fort Wayne in poor condition:
BIYUSH PATEL, 27, died in hospital.
PATTY SMITH, 21, died on 1-24.
Listed as unaccounted for as of 7 p.m.:
GAIL PERNELL, 28.
Two Elkhart city firemen JERRY VAUGHN and KENNETH BEATTIE, were treated at the scene for minor injuries and three other firemen also were treated at the scene for smoke inhalation.