2 Killed, 5 Injured in Blast at Santa Fe Springs Factory

Times Staff Writers

Two people were killed and five others were injured Monday afternoon by an explosion at a Santa Fe Springs industrial plant, officials said. Two of the injured were reported in critical condition.

Killed were James Gibson, 41, of Riverside and Ross Fete. 32, of Yorba Linda.

The most seriously injured were identified as Jesus Martinez, 53, of Norwalk and Soubin Chanthazongsouk, 31, of Whittier.

The blast occurred at 2:39 p.m. at Reinhold Industries, 12827 E. Imperial Highway, while workers were installing a high-pressure molding machine called a hydroclave, said Battalion Chief Le Roy Kehret of the Santa Fe Springs Fire Department. Sheriff’s deputies said carbon dioxide gas exploded, tearing off part of the roof.


Company President Mike Furry said there apparently was a malfunction in the machine. No fire was reported. Nearly 140 employees were evacuated from the plant, which manufactures reinforced nose cones and other parts for rockets and aircraft.

Felt Half Mile Away

Witnesses said the blast was felt half a mile away.

The injured were taken to several hospitals inthe area.


Power to about 600 households was knocked out for about an hour, and some telephone service was temporarily interrupted, authorities said.

Rescue workers immediately began sifting through the wreckage to see if there were any other victims.