At least 3 workers are dead in Milwaukee industrial blast

NATION DIGEST

December 07, 2006|By CHICAGO TRIBUNE

MILWAUKEE -- In darkness and frigid temperatures, fire and police investigators sifted yesterday through the smoldering rubble from an explosion that killed at least three workers and leveled two buildings in a west side industrial basin, near Milwaukee's Miller Park.

Twelve hours after the explosion at a Falk Corp. warehouse, government and company officials said they did not know the cause of the blast that knocked workers off their feet, broke windows and was felt miles away. Last night, investigators called off the search for more bodies and said everyone was accounted for.

"I could feel the air pressure change and atomized glass going by me," said Mark Luzinski, a welder at a nearby building in the 61-acre complex. "I saw the wall buckled in and all the doors - 40-foot doors - blown off their hinges."

The fiery blast flipped cars, hurled debris into the air and forced the evacuation of dozens of workers at the plant, which makes large industrial gears and couplings. Burning rubble was spread over several blocks.

Fire officials had not determined the cause of the blast, but the company had begun to evacuate workers after a leak occurred in one of six large propane tanks.

Falk employs about 700 people in Milwaukee. Company spokeswoman Linda Mayer said she did not know how many people were in the plant at the time.

Chicago Tribune

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