published Monday, June 13th, 2011

Charleston, Tenn.: Fire at Arch Chemical plant injures 5

Five people were sent to the hospital after a fire broke out at Arch Chemical plant in Charleston, Tenn. Monday afternoon, emergency officials say.

The fire broke out around 4:30 p.m. in a section of the plant where powdered calcium hydrochlorite was stored, said company spokesman Dale Walters. Investigators are still trying to determine exactly what ignited the blaze.

It burned about 20 minutes before being extinguished by Arch in-house emergency response crews and the Bradley County Fire Department.

Smoke inhalation, heat exhaustion and minor burns were the reasons why one Arch employee and four contractors were sent to the hospital, according to Bradley County EMS. All are expected to fully recover.

Walters said the company set up meters around the plant’s border to see if the chlorine in the plant would have any off-site impact. He said there was no chlorine detected at the company’s parameters.

The international chemical company has 25 plants, Walters said. The Charleston plant produces various water sanitizers. Walters acknowledged fires could be volatile with the chemical processes performed at the plant and some had broken out there before, though they were extinguished before getting out of hand.

“Still, one accident is too many,” Walters said. “We’re fully investigating the cause so we can make sure it doesn’t happen again,” he insisted.

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