ATF begins investigation of Kilgore plant explosions - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

ATF begins investigation of Kilgore plant explosions

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TOONE, TN -

(WMC-TV) – A national response team started its investigation into the two explosions that rocked a West Tennessee plant Saturday.

The first explosion at the Kilgore Flares plant in Toone, Tenn. critically injured Michael Chism, who was taken by helicopter to The MED where he remains hospitalized with burns over 90 percent of his body. A second, controlled explosion happened Saturday evening.

A 20 person team from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has been on property for the last 24 hours. The ATF response team is processing the scene to find a cause for the explosion.

The facility, Kilgore Flares, makes air and naval decoy flares for the military.

Explosions at the plant are a common occurrence for people living nearby.

"It's past tough but witH God, we'll all get through it," said Toone resident Doris Wooden.

Those who live in the tiny town say they will be uneasy until federal investigators find out exactly what caused the explosion Saturday morning.

"Right now, we're focused on public safety and in finding a determination so that this doesn't occur in the future," said ATF spokesperson Michael Knight.

ATF says its national response team has been combing through the facility, first making sure the buildings are safe for workers to return. Afterward, ATF's primary focus will shift to determining what caused the explosion.

"Our findings are simply the facts of what occurred," said Knight. "The do not get in to any repercussion of the explosion, but just the findings themselves."

Investigators say they should know the cause of the explosion sometime Tuesday.

Tennessee OSHA (TOSHA) is also investigating the explosions.

In 2011, United States Navy turned down a contract with Kilgore to make flares because of its bad safety history. To read that report and learn more about why the contract was turned down, click here: http://www.gao.gov/products/p00239#mt=e-report  

After a 2010 explosion that injured two people, TOSHA found several violations, which the company is appealing. To take a look at the list of violations, keeping in mind that none of these have been resolved as of yet, click here: http://ftpcontent4.worldnow.com/wmctv/Kilgore_Citations.pdf 

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