Explosions occur all too frequently in the United States.
Recently, they seemingly have become a fact of everyday life. If you were to set a Google alert for “explosion,” your inbox would be inundated with updates.
Here is a look at some recent headline-making explosions:
Oklahoma paper mill explosion injures 5 workers
Muskogee, Oklahoma (Associated Press) – Officials said an Oklahoma paper mill explosion Monday night in the eastern part of the state injured five workers and left two firefighters with heat exhaustion.
Ron Morris, the Muskogee County Emergency Medical Service operations director, said four injured workers were taken to a hospital with smoke inhalation and undisclosed “minor trauma.” A fifth worker was treated at the scene.
Karen Cole, a spokesperson for the Georgia-Pacific paper mill, said two people still were hospitalized in stable condition.
The Oklahoma paper mill explosion occurred shortly before 10 p.m. Monday at the Georgia-Pacific plant in Muskogee, which is about 50 miles southeast of Tulsa.
Fire chief Mike O’Dell said the fire began when a hydraulic line on a propane-fueled fork lift ruptured, spraying fluid that ignited on the propane tank. O’Dell said the two firefighters with exhaustion were treated at the scene.
Mourners gather to honor 4 killed in Illinois blast
Waukegan, Illinois (Associated Press) — More than 100 people gathered last Friday along a chain-link fence outside a badly damaged Illinois silicone factory to remember the four men who died in an explosion at the facility.
The mourners at AB Specialty Silicones factory about 40 miles north of Chicago included friends, relatives and co-workers of the men whose bodies were pulled from the rubble during the week after the May 3 blast. Four wreaths of white flowers were placed on stands as people hugged and cried.
The four employees killed were:
- Byron H. Biehn, 53, of Brighton Township, Wisconsin;
- Jeff Cummings, 57, of Kenosha, Wisconsin;
- Daniel Nicklas, 24, of Beach Park, Illinois;
- and Allen Stevens, 29, of Salem, Wisconsin.
The Waukegan explosion is still under investigation. Fire officials have said they believe it was the result of an accident in factory processes.
Speakers at Friday’s gathering included Waukegan’s mayor, the city’s fire chief, and Lake County coroner Howard Cooper, who said the service was about healing. Cooper told those gathered, “I cannot lie, it’s hard.”
Mac Penman, the plant’s general manager, said he plans to rebuild and reopen the facility.
“We have lost our friends and colleagues,” Penman said, “but the families have lost fathers, sons, husbands and brothers.”
Waukegan city spokesman David Motley, meanwhile, said the blast affected seven nearby buildings. The owners of the buildings have been asked to complete independent structural analyses of the properties.
“Unfortunately, not all of them are OK,” Motley said.
Michigan oil tank blast scary, but none are hurt
Lee Township, Michigan (WOOD TV) — It was a scary situation in a rural part of Calhoun County northeast of Marshall when two oil tanks exploded Tuesday morning.
“It was really loud. It scared me very badly,” said Brayden Whittacker, an 11-year-old boy who lives nearby.
The blast happened around 10:30 a.m. at an oil storage facility — referred to as a tank farm — on M Drive North between 21 1/2 Mile Road and 23 Mile Road in Lee Township, which is about 60 miles southwest of Grand Rapids.
No one was hurt, but it left neighbors understandably shaken.
“It was just a very loud boom and a very scared 11-year-old,” Brayden’s mother, Janel Whittacker, said. “He said, ‘Something just shot me across the room.’ ”
Brayden was looking out the window when the tanks blew. The explosion shook the house and sent him stumbling.
“All I heard was a loud boom and then I was blown back pretty far,” he said.
Said his mother: “It was intense. I’d never heard anything quite like that. All I could think of was that something hit our house. It was getting darker and hotter, so we decided we need to get out of here. That’s oil and if it blows up, we’re not sticking around.”
About 50 firefighters from around the area dumped foam on the burning tanks to extinguish the flames in less than an hour.
Elliot Olsen has decades of experience representing people harmed by explosions. You can contact him for a free consultation by filling out this form and submitting it: