Two Brothers Killed in W.Va. Industrial Explosion


Two people are dead and two others were burned after an explosion at a chemical plant in New Cumberland.

It was originally reported by the company at about 6 p.m. that a third person died, but they have since retracted their statement, confirming only two people have died.

The deceased have been identified as two brothers, 39-year-old Jeffery Scott Fish and 38-year-old James E. Fish.

A third employee, 27-year-old Steven Swain, was badly burned and was receiving surgery and other treatment at Pittsburgh hospital.

The second injured victim was Dave Williams, an outside contractor who was at the AL Solutions Inc. plant at the time. He was being treated for burns to his hands and face.

Ken Kline, the chief financial officer for AL Solutions, said the blast happened in the main production building just before 1:30 p.m.

AL Solutions, formerly called Jamegy Inc., develops additives for the aluminum industry. Kline said the plant employs about 25 people.

Officials said workers were moving a chemical when the explosion happened, but it was not immediately known if that's what caused the explosion. New Cumberland Fire Chief Lester Skinner confirmed the victims were working with a chemical at the time of the explosion.

Six fire departments responded to the scene. For hours, smoke billowed from the plant while crews battled hot spots. The fire was out by 5:30 p.m.

The facility is just across the street from Chester Road, where a row of homes sits. None of the homes were evacuated, but many yards were filled with debris from the explosion.

Dozens of residents who had been watching the scene unfold all afternoon expressed sadness and anger. One woman, who is the wife of a New Cumberland firefighter, was visiting her parents across the street from the chemical plant. She said she heard a hissing sound followed by several loud explosions.

Another woman, who lives near the plant, said she heard the aftermath.

"We heard someone screaming, which was just blood chilling. As it was happening, it terrified our two young babies. They were screaming and I went outside and it looked like someone had been blown out. He was laying on the ground and just charred," said Ursala Greenwood.

This marks the fourth fire at the facility, the third with a fatality. In 2006, an explosion and fire at the plant killed a worker in the production building. In August 1995, another worker was killed.

Residents said they are stunned that more lives were lost at the facility and said the images of the last explosion are still vivid.

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