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Explosion and fire reported at Olin Brass

Brett Luster bluster@civitasmedia.com

May 27, 2014

EAST ALTON — An explosion at the Olin Brass plant near Route 3 Tuesday afternoon caused injuries to two workers inside the DC Casting Unit No. 5.


An injured worker with a bandage on his arm was transported via ARCH helicopter to St. John’s Mercy Hospital in St. Louis and another worker was transported to Alton Memorial for injuries, treated and released, according to information provided by eye witnesses and Olin Brass Spokesperson Ann Pipkin.


“(The incident) was contained to one unit,” Pipkin told The Telegraph. “There were no other injuries — there was no fire. It was contained to one of our furnace units.”


According to a release distributed by Olin Brass later Tuesday afternoon, the injured worker that was released from the hospital returned to the Olin Brass site later that day. The release made no mention of the status of the other injured worker.


First responders from Alton, Rosewood Heights, Wood River, East Alton, and Olin Brass’s own fire department responded to the scene. Firefighters worked what was likely a fire in connection with the explosion at the Olin Brass casting plant.


Black smoke rose from the roof of the plant and there were scanner traffic reports of smoldering graphite within the plant around noon Tuesday.


Traffic on Route 3 was halted for about 30 minutes to make room for the landing ARCH helicopter.


A witness within one mile of the plant said smoke was visible rising from the roof, but dissipated after two minutes.


Pipkin said few details about the incident were known, but information was being gathered as of Tuesday afternoon by investigators with Olin Brass and the Occupational Health and Safety Administration.


Other than the casting unit where the incident occurred, all other casting facility operations were continuing as of late Tuesday afternoon.


The plant is located in the 300 block of Lewis and Clark Blvd., near Route 3 in East Alton.


Brett Luster can be reached at 618-208-6447 and on Twitter @bdluster.