Explosion injures about 30 people in Milwaukee, 3 dead
The Associated Press
An explosion that may have started in a large propane tank devastated an industrial complex near downtown Milwaukee Wednesday morning, killing three people and injuring dozens, Mayor Tom Barrett said. An unconfirmed number of people were missing.
The explosion ignited a fire at a Falk Corp. warehouse near the Potawatomi casino and about a half mile from Miller Park, where the Milwaukee Brewers play, fire Chief William Wendtland said.
Federal investigators are looking into what caused an explosion at a Milwaukee company, leaving three people dead, scores injured and others missing. Full Video (AP Photo)
"It sounded like when I was in Vietnam, incoming mortar rounds," said Mays, an Army veteran.
The concussion of the explosion knocked him down and flipped over his car, destroying it.
"But I'm OK," Mays said as a single tear rolled down his left cheek.
Three people died, 37 were injured and more workers were missing, Barrett said at an afternoon news conference.
Kevin Carter, 42, of West Allis, said he was inside the annex when the blast happened.
"First the lights went off, and then there was a big explosion," Carter said.
Falk spokesman Linda Mayor said she did not know how many other workers were in the building with him. The company makes large industrial gears and couplings, employing about 700 people in Milwaukee, she said.
Police investigating the cause of the explosion interviewed workers at Miller Park.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration also sent a team to investigate the explosion, said George Yoksas, director of OSHA's Milwaukee office.
Froedtert Memorial Lutheran Hospital admitted nine patients, including one with bleeding to his head, said Dr. Daniel DeBehnke, the hospital's clinical medical director. Another man had chest and lung injuries, while others suffered broken bones and numerous cuts, DeBehnke said.
Aurora Sinai Medical Center, Aurora's St. Luke's Medical Center and Columbia St. Mary's Hospital were treating workers with various injuries, including cuts and head wounds, hospital spokespeople said. None of those injuries were life-threatening, they said.
Hazardous materials crews and as many as 120 firefighters and paramedics responded to the fire, which was largely extinguished by 11 a.m., Wendtland said.
The explosion could be felt at the firehouse about a mile and a half away, fire Lt. Brian O'Connor said. It destroyed Falk's wood frame warehouse and numerous cars and damaged several other buildings in the complex, he said. The fire spread through rubble covering several blocks.
Construction crews working on buildings in the surrounding area were sent home by their companies because of concern about smoke from the spreading fire.
Construction worker Jack Obarski, 46, of Milwaukee, said he was working when he heard a loud boom and saw smoke hundreds of feet in the air.
"Stuff was just flying up in the air," Obarski said as he headed home.
Gillen Co. had several workers driving piles nearby. Edward C. Crockett Jr., 41, of Milwaukee, said he felt the ground shake and saw debris fly into the air.
"I felt it and you knew something wasn't right. I thought it was a train engine," said Crockett, who motioned to nearby train tracks that run through the industrial area.
Dan Gartzke, 58, of Hartland, was shopping at Brookfield Square when he heard about the explosion. He immediately headed to Miller Park to check on his two sons who work for Falk.
"It certainly killed the Christmas spirit I was in," Gartzke said.
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