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Rescuers Hunt Blast Victims, Clues

January 9, 1998

LOCKWOOD, Nev. (AP) _ Rescuers searched Thursday through the remains of a chemical plant for clues to the cause of two explosions that left four people missing and feared dead.

The blasts Wednesday at the Sierra Chemical Co., which makes explosives for mining, were felt for miles. Debris was scattered over a 2,000-yard radius.

Firefighters and hazardous materials experts have found no evidence of survivors or bodies. Six people were injured.

Family members and friends of the missing workers gathered near the site early Thursday, hoping for word of their loved ones, whose names have been withheld.

Washoe County sheriff’s Sgt. Bob Towery said investigators planned to divide the area into grids and sift through the wreckage bit by bit.

Four of the injured workers were treated at hospitals and released.

Two others, Benigno Orozco and Eduardo Cruz, remained hospitalized in satisfactory condition. Orozco, 24, suffered burns to his face and hands. Cruz, 25, suffered facial fractures.

The cause of the blasts remained under investigation.

The first explosion occurred in an unoccupied building. The force set off the second explosion about three seconds later in an adjacent building where workers were mixing a highly explosive material.

The explosions registered magnitude 2.0 on earthquake monitors at the nearby University of Nevada-Reno and were felt as far away as Fernley, 20 miles east.

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