6 employees at North Knoxville steel mill hurt in explosion

6 employees at North Knoxville steel mill hurt in explosion

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Knoxville police respond to the scene of an explosion on Tennessee Avenue in North Knoxville. Knoxville police respond to the scene of an explosion on Tennessee Avenue in North Knoxville.
By LAURA HALM
6 News Reporter
 
KNOXVILLE (WATE) - Several workers at a North Knoxville steel mill plant were taken to the hospital Thursday night after a reported explosion.

The Knoxville Fire Department says they responded to the Gerdau Ameristeel plant at 1919 Tennessee Avenue around 9 p.m.

Firefighters say the six employees were injured in a fire that stemmed from the furnace area of the business. Firefighters say five of the injured employees were not seriously hurt. They were treated and released from the hospital Thursday night.

The sixth employee was left critically injured and taken to a regional burn center.

Ryan McClain was nearby when the explosion occurred.

"Sitting there listening to music and all of a sudden I heard a real loud boom and everything shook. The house, I head the windows in the house shaking," McClain said.

Firefighters are still working to determine the cause.

"The plant, what they do is melt scrap metals down and somewhere in the process there was an explosion," said KFD Captain D.J. Corcoran. "We don't know if it was a steam burn or a metal burn."

People who live close by say they can't believe an accident this bad happened.

"It shook the whole house, I thought it busted some windows. I heard car alarms going off so when I ran outside to my front porch I saw smoke blowing out of every end of the whole factory," said witness Shane Nichols.

That's why they're praying for everyone hurt.

"You know they've got families at home, you don't know how bad it is," said Nichols.
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