(Recasts with Oklahoma blasts, adds details in paragraphs 6-10,
By Katie Schubert
OMAHA, Neb. Jan 20 Explosions in two U.S.
states, one at an animal feed plant in Nebraska and another at a
steel plant in Oklahoma, killed at least four people and injured
almost a dozen on Monday, authorities said.
An explosion and fire flattened part of an animal feed plant
in Omaha, Nebraska, killing two people and injuring at least 10
others, authorities said.
In the Omaha incident, about 38 employees were working at
the International Nutrition plant at midmorning when there was
an explosion and part of the building collapsed, interim Fire
Chief Bernard Kanger told a news conference.
One body has been recovered and the other is expected to be
recovered on Tuesday from the industrial accident, Kanger said.
Of the 10 injured, four were in critical condition, he said.
All employees have been accounted for, but authorities are
not sure if there were any visitors in the plant, he said.
In a separate incident, two workers likely "burned to death"
when a furnace exploded at about 4 p.m. local time (2200 GMT) at
an Oklahoma steel plant, a Marshall County Sheriff's Office
A third person was injured at Mid American Steel and Wire in
Madill, Oklahoma, but treated for burns and released from a
local hospital, said Madill Fire Department Fire Chief Keith
The identities of those killed and injured were not
immediately known, the officials said.
The plant, which was established in 2004, according to its
website, did not respond to requests for comment. It is about
120 miles (193 km) southeast of Oklahoma City.
Officials said investigations into the causes of both
explosions and the fire would take days, if not weeks.
In the Omaha, Nebraska incident, Forklift operator Kendrick
Houston told the Omaha World-Herald newspaper he was returning
to work from a break when the floor began to tremble.
"There was this real loud crackling sound and the lights
went off," Houston was quoted as saying on the paper's website.
"I saw a spark and there was a big ball of flame coming from the
southwest corner of the building."
Houston said he fled the building. He then tried to go back
in to find his co-workers, but heat and smoke forced him to turn
back, he added.
Nate Lewis, a production line worker, told the newspaper
that the building caved in from the third floor. He also said it
turned pitch black inside the plant, and that he crawled through
the rubble to safety.
About 50 Omaha firefighters battled the blaze and rescued
five people from the rubble, Kanger said.
Representatives of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms
and Explosives and the Occupational Safety and Health
Administration (OSHA) were also at the scene.
The grain handling industry, which includes feed plants, is
considered "high hazard," due partly to the risk of fires and
explosions from the accumulation of combustible grain dust,
according to the OSHA website.
OSHA, along with the Office of the State Fire Marshal, was
also investigating the Oklahoma blast, Pruitt said.
Privately owned International Nutrition makes feed, vitamins
and nutritional products for animals.
(Reporting by Katie Schubert in Omaha, Nebraska; and Eric M.
Johnson in Seattle; Editing by Edith Honan, Ellen Wulfhorst, G
Crosse, Eric Walsh and Lisa Shumaker)