CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) –
UPDATE: Ten people checked into the hospital Friday after a fire and explosion at a downtown business.
Crews responded to a fire and explosion at Designed Alloy Products on Alton Park Boulevard around 7:30 a.m. Friday.
Officials say a furnace exploded inside the building.
Six workers were injured in the fire. Three people were treated on the scene for smoke inhalation. Three other people were taken to the hospital including a man with 2nd and 3rd degree burns on 10-15% of his body. He’s been transported to the burn center at Vanderbilt and is expected to recover. Another seven employees checked into the hospital Friday as a precaution.
Erlanger Hospital officials said seven additional “walk-in” patients showed up at the Erlanger Emergency Room for examination and treatment Friday afternoon. Hospital Spokeswoman Pat Charles said all were expected to be treated and released today.
It took fire crews about 25 minutes to put out the fire.
“I was going up the stairs and I heard a KABOOM and I was scared that a truck had hit the building,” said eyewitness Donna Armstrong. “It sounded a little bit like fireworks going off except the building was shaking,” she said.
Donna Armstrong was working next door when she heard a big boom. Designed Alloy Products, which features a state-of-the-art melt shop, was on fire with people inside.
“I felt my truck vibrate and the windows start to rattle, so I stepped out and looked up and saw smoke shooting out of the building,” said Eyewitness Aaron Ramey.
Aaron Ramey was sitting in his truck hundreds of yards away.
“It scared me to death,” Ramey said. “I thought something had blew up. Something like one of those tanks over there blew up.”
Bruce Garner of the Chattanooga Fire Department said a furnace with molten metal exploded. Workers were melting stainless steel Friday morning when the furnace exploded.
“From what I understand, they have an electrical furnace in there and melt around 2900 degrees is what I was told this morning,” Armstrong said.
Armstrong used to work at Wheland Foundry and said this line of work can be very dangerous.
“Our hearts go out to the people that were hurt and being in the foundry for 15 years, I sympathize with them,” she said.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation.