Plant Explosion

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An industrial fire Thursday morning has two men being treated for injuries in the hospital.

"The fire happened around 11 o'clock this morning at the specialty and foam products plant here behind me. It happened when two employees were doing maintenance work on a piece of equipment," said Mark Marinaro, Rockford Fire Dept. Investigator.

Fire officials say heat is needed to perform maintenance work on equipment, and a pressure build up caused a fireball to shoot 15 feet across the room.

"It was just a build up of pressure and it found the weakest point in the system then it released the pressure out and there was a fireball as described by personnel in the plant," Marinaro said.

Two men were taken to St. Anthony's for burns and other minor injuries but were reported to be in good condition.

Police blocked off the road leading to the plant, fearing the fire could grow, but officials say it was put out quickly. Plant and fire officials are still working to determine what exactly caused the accident but say it's rare.

"Apparently it was just a fluke thing that happened," Marinaro said. "They're looking into putting in more released valves so it won't occur again."

Plant manager Joseph Hanna did not want to go on camera but says he's investigating the situation and his biggest concern is the two injured workers.

The plant, a division of Owens-Corning incorporated makes insulation for residential and commercial use. About 15 workers were in the plant at the time of the explosion and were evacuated from the building.

Aside from the injuries, damage was isolated to the machine and estimated at about $3,000.