Three people were killed, and 38 injured, four critically, after an explosion at a Slim Jim meat products plant in North Carolina on Tuesday.
Chris Woods, a worker at the facility, said he started running when he felt an explosion around 11 a.m.
“I was picking up a piece of meat off the line and I felt it, the percussion in my chest,” Woods said. “One of the guys I was working with got blown back; he flew backwards.”
Patients were sent to five area hospitals. Four people were in critical condition at UNC Hospitals with burns covering between 40 and 60 percent of their bodies, said Dr. Charles Cairns, professor and chairman of the department of emergency medicine at the University of North Carolina.
About 300 people were in the plant a few miles south of Raleigh when the explosion occurred, according to ConAgra Spokesman Dave Jackson. Parts of the roof collapsed.
About 900 people cover four shifts work at the 50,000-square foot plant, which produces Slim Jim products and is considered one of ConAgra’s largest, Jackson told the Associated Press.
“Obviously our first priority is the safety of our employees and the community and making sure our employees are accounted for and working with them to get them whatever they might need,” he said shortly after the explosion as rescue workers searched for missing employees.
Omaha, Neb.-based ConAgra was sending a team of experts to the facility and helping local authorities. Authorities could not say where in the plant the blast happened or what caused it.
The plant last was inspected by the North Carolina Department of Labor for workplace safety last July and no violations were found, said Labor Department spokeswoman Dolores Quesenberry.