published Sunday, February 23rd, 2014

Authorities probe 2 explosions at Tennessee plant

TOONE, Tenn. — Authorities are investigating two explosions at a manufacturing plant in western Tennessee that injured an employee.

The Jackson Sun reports the first blast happened around 10:50 a.m. Saturday at the Kilgore Flares plant in Toone. The second explosion occurred around 9:30 p.m.

There were no injuries in that incident, but authorities said Kilgore employee Michael Chism suffered severe burns in the first blast and was flown to the Regional Medical Center in Memphis where he's listed in critical condition.

Kilgore makes air and naval decoy flares for the military.

Hardeman County Sheriff John Doolen said the company wasn't allowing authorities inside the building until the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives served a warrant.

Chuck Stout, vice president and general manager of Kilgore, released a statement Saturday afternoon saying the company was cooperating with law enforcement.

"Kilgore is in the process of gathering the facts as to what happened and will cooperate fully with the federal, state and local authorities in that regard," the statement said.

In September 2010, three people were severely burned in a flash fire at the plant. One victim died a year later. Following an investigation, the company was cited for 14 violations and fined $348,000.

In April 2011, three more employees were injured in another incident -- two were burned and one was knocked unconscious.

Prior to 2002, eight people died from injuries in incidents at the plant, according to Jackson Sun records.

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