Update: Charleston Corporation CEO explains cause of plant fire - Fox 28: South Bend, Elkhart IN News, Weather, Sports

Update: Charleston Corporation CEO explains cause of plant fire

Posted:
We're learning more about Tuesday's fire at a Michiana fiberglass plant.  It happened at Charleston Corporation in Bremen around 1:00pm Tuesday afternoon.

The President & CEO of Charleston Corporation, Jeff Wysong, tells FOX28 the cause was a static electric spark that ignited some acetone vapors in the air.  Wysong says workers were using a cleaning product at the time the fire ignited.  Wysong says he has been alongside investigators with IOSHA all day.  He says their meetings have been "productive."

FOX28's Molly Jirasek is working to gather additional updates and will bring them to you as she learns more.  She asked Wysong about the 2012 inspection report FOX28 first reported on Tuesday.  The company was written up in 2012 for three "serious" violations, and was fined just over $2,000.  According to the report, an inspector found a "55 gallon drum containing Acetone which was not grounded."  Wysong says although Tuesday's fire involved acetone, it was a completely unrelated matter.

The Bremen Fire Chief told FOX28 that his department recently did a walk-through of the facility and everything was up to code.

Three employees were taken to hospital for smoke inhalation, two of which were released Tuesday evening.  According to family members, the third, Candy Witt is still in the hospital. 

Her brother tells us she suffered cyanide poisoning. "When I was there next to her bed, the doctor came in and said they were going to start the cyanide treatment and hopefully she would respond to that," said Cesar Sosa. "For myself, she is my younger sister.  It was pretty hard."

He said his sister is responding well.  When she first got to the hospital he said she wasn't speaking, but later started moving around and talking to family members.

A lot of agencies played a role in fighting Tuesday's fire.  In fact, the first person on scene wasn't even a firefighter.  "As I got about parallel to that building, I did hear an explosion," said Bremen Police Chief Matthew Hassel.

Hassel said he was just doing his normal rounds when he witnessed the fire at Charleston Corporation.  "Immediately a large amount of black smoke started rolling from that building.  I immediately called it in."

Hassel said he blocked off the road as employees evacuated.

Bremen Fire Chief Matt Neher said they called 17 fire departments to help haul in water to the scene.  "Out here in the kind of rural area, we don't have hydrants so we have to shuttle water with tankers"

Wysong said the building is a loss, but he said his employee's quick actions saved lives.  "They knew where fire extinguishers were.  They knew what had to be done." 
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