2 killed and 10 injured in accident at Omaha feed plant
A fire and structural collapse at an animal feed processing plant killed two people and injured 10 others, four critically, Omaha authorities said Monday.
Officials had said the fire at the International Nutrition plant could have been precipitated by an explosion. But later, in a televised news conference, Omaha Interim Fire Chief Bernie Kanger said it was unclear whether there had been a blast.
“We are classifying this as an industrial accident that led to a structural fire,” he said. The incident was reported about 10 a.m.
Omaha police said two workers had been killed and the death toll was not likely to rise. All of the other workers had been accounted for, Lt. Darci Tierney said.
Thirty-eight employees were believed to have been inside the building at the time, Kanger said. He said the building was severely damaged and considered dangerous.
“We haven’t cleared the building yet because of the significant risk to our people,” he said.
The cause of the accident was unclear, but Kanger said no hazardous chemicals were kept at the plant. International Nutrition makes products that are added to livestock and poultry feed to make them more nutritious.
The building sits in an industrial area visible from Interstate 80, which bisects Nebraska’s largest city. There are no residences nearby and no other buildings were evacuated.
At least 10 employees were injured and four were listed in critical condition, Kanger said. Six had injuries that were not considered life-threatening, he said. Seven workers refused treatment.
The explosion knocked out the building’s lights and sent workers scrambling for safety.
Nate Lewis said he felt fortunate to have escaped. Lewis, 21, told reporters that he was on the first floor when he heard a blast. The building went dark, so he used light from his cellphone to make his way across the production floor to safety outside.
“I was a production line worker, although I don’t know if I want to be that anymore,” Lewis said.
The cause of the accident will be investigated by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Kanger said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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