GALLATIN, Tenn. – Five workers were injured, three critically, in a fire Friday morning at a manufacturing plant in Gallatin.
The fire, initially called an explosion by emergency personnel, broke out just before 7 a.m. at the Hoeganaes Corporation on Airport Road.
The fire is the third at the facility this year alone. Two workers died as the result of a flash fire in late January and in March, a third worker was injured in a similar explosion.
Gallatin Assistant Fire Chief Tom Dale called Friday's fire an "industrial accident" caused by a maintenance issue. He said it was unrelated to the two accidents earlier this year caused when metal dust accumulated in the air and combusted.
Friday, Dale said the workers were in the process of trying to identify the source of an industrial gas and there was a fire.
"It was not the powder that was involved," he told a gathering of reporters outside the department's headquarters Friday afternoon. "It was a totally different situation."
Of the five people injured, three suffered critical burns and were taken by ambulance to Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville.
Chief Dale said the names and conditions of those workers would not be released out of courtesy to their families.
Two others were transported to Sumner Regional Medical Center where they were treated and released. Their names were also not released.
Chief Dale said there are typically around 10 workers in the part of the plant where the fire occurred.
The plant has since been shut down.
The Hoeganaes Corporation, which produces atomized iron powder for the auto industry, was criticized by the U.S. Chemical Safety Board the company two weeks ago for not adequately addressing the danger posed by flammable metal dust.
Wiley Sherburne and Vernon Wayne Corley were severely burned in an explosion on January 31. Sherburne died two days later. Corley passed away just last Saturday.
An unnamed worker was injured in a second explosion on March 29.
A call to the Hoeganaes headquarters in Cinnaminson, New Jersey was not immediately returned.