Industrial explosion results in structure fire at Pueblo plant

Published: Oct. 12, 2021 at 11:51 AM MDT|Updated: Oct. 13, 2021 at 6:33 AM MDT
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PUEBLO, Colo. (KKTV) - Firefighters swarmed a building southeast of Pueblo following an industrial explosion that resulted in a structure fire late Tuesday morning.

“About 10:35 this morning, we received a call of an explosion in this facility,” said Pueblo Fire Department spokesperson Woody Percival, speaking outside the Rocla plant, where smoke could be seen drifting from the building. “This is a facility that manufactures concrete railroad ties. ... It happened in the manufacturing machining area of the facility that was a covered indoor-outdoor area and lots of other items have caught fire.”

The 12,000-square-foot plant is owned by Vossloh North America and is located at 3201 Lime Road. The road is a distance from the main part of the city and is home to several manufacturing companies.

Percival says someone was cutting or welding near a mostly empty oil drum, creating sparks that then ignited the oil and caused the explosion. All 39 employees were accounted for following the blast, but one was airlifted to a Denver-area hospital in unknown condition. The injured worker was the one “most directly involved with the start of the incident,” Percival told 11 News.

Strong wind Tuesday was working against firefighters as they tried to contain the blaze.

“It’s definitely causing us grief putting the fire out,” Percival said.

Half of the available fire crews in the city were assisting the fire, Percival estimated, as well as several rural agencies.

Firefighters successfully contained the blaze to the warehouse area of the plant, though it took several hours to extinguish.

This is not the first industrial accident at the plant in recent years; in 2019, a worker was killed after he was trapped between two train cars.

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