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Baghouse Explosion Injures Eight, Two Critically

July 1, 1986

ELYRIA, Ohio (AP) _ An aluminum powder compound exploded Tuesday at a mixing plant and triggered a fire, injuring eight people, two critically, in a blast that was heard eight miles away, authorities said.

The 8:27 a.m. blast raised the roof of the Rossborough Manufacturing Co. plant, a 40-by-70-foot wooden structure about 20 miles west of Cleveland.

Employees Kenneth Chutes, 23, and Harry Greenwood, 24, both of Lorain, were in critical condition in the burn unit of Cleveland’s Metro General Hospital, said spokeswoman Sue Dawson.

Two people, one of them a firefighter, were treated for superficial burns, and four other people had to be treated for heat exhaustion or smoke inhalation as a result of the expolosion and fire.

″The ground trembled,″ said Dallas Luce, who lives about a quarter-mile north of the fire scene. ″There was one big (explosion), and then a few smaller ones.″

Mike Podulka, a Grafton Township fireman, said he heard the initial explosion eight miles away. ″A few minutes later, we got the call, and then I knew what it was,″ he said.

The the company that owns the plant makes thermite, a multi-purpose powder used primarily in the repair of stolls, which are the cast-iron cars used to carry molten steel in mills, said Allan Franks of the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency. The powder is explosive and reacts with various things, including excessive moisture, he said.

Thermite contains aluminum chips or powder, iron oxide and sand, and was stored in a plastic bag inside a 55-gallon drum in the building, said Eaton Township Fire Chief Melvin Ternes.

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