2 critically burned in chemical plant explosion - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

2 critically burned in chemical plant explosion

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (FOX13) -

Two Penn A Kem employees are being treated for critical burns and several other employees were also injured after an early Monday morning explosion and fire inside their chemical plant in north Memphis.

Both critically injured victims sustained burns over 80-100 percent of their bodies, Memphis Fire Chief Jim Harvey. They are being treated at The MED.

The fire was first reported just after 1 a.m.

Neighborhood houses shook with the sounds of booms coming from the chemical plant on Chelsea Avenue.

There were 12 employees inside at the time of the fire and explosion.

First responders said employees were transferring Methyl Alcohol and Furfurylamine from one container to another container when the chemicals exploded.

The plant's sprinkler system suppressed and contained the fire and chemicals, Chief Harvey said.

Furfurylamine is a colorless to yellow liquid with an ammonia odor and is flammable, according to Penn A Kem's website. Furfurylamine is usually stored in 55-gallon drums.

Methyl Alcohol is a colorless, volatile, water-soluble, poisonous liquid produced synthetically from carbon monoxide and hydrogen. Methyl Alcohol is used chiefly as a solvent, a fuel, and an automobile antifreeze and in the synthesis of formaldehyde.

There was no HAZMAT issue for the surrounding community, a fire official told FOX13 News.

Nearby Douglass Park and part of the neighborhood around the chemical facility were blocked off for several hours.

Penn A Chem is a speciality chemical company that has, for the past 60 years, produced chemicals for pharmaceutical and agricultural purposes.

The cause of the explosion and fire remains under investigation.


FOX13 News anchor Brooke Thomas contributed to this report.


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