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New Details About Plant Fire: What Went Wrong?

There are new details about the Kilgore Flares plant explosion that critically injured three workers.
MEMPHIS, TN - There are new details about the Kilgore Flares plant explosion that critically injured three workers. A state report paints an ugly picture of innocent employees in harm's way.

A 19-page report details what went wrong that led to the devastating fire in September in Toone, Tennessee. It says workstations were overloaded with hazardous materials, but that's not all.

“My chest was burning, my back was burning, my arms, my hair was just crisp, I could smell it,” recalls Catrina Jones.

Jones says she's been through hell. What makes it worse today are the looks she gets from strangers.

“I expect for kids to stare. They don't know any better, but, if you're grown, you know better, why you staring at me?” asked Catrina.

She was one of three workers who suffered the worst of the fire and lived to talk about it. Now we're learning more about what happened.
The investigation reveals serious flaws in safety protocol at the Kilgore plant that produces military grade flares.

The report says "Kilgore's training methods were inconsistent."

It also questions if employees were covered up enough for dealing with such hazardous materials.

It says "Kilgore had not determined through testing if the personal protective equipment worn by employees would protect them from the potential fire/explosion."

The report cites a warning days before the September 14th fire.

It says on September 10th, TOSHA received a formal complaint about overloaded booths.

Catrina Jones says she's surprised to hear all this.

“Honestly, my supervisor, he was on top of safety," said Jones. “I was hoping my coworkers weren't doing anything unsafe. I felt safe."

People who work near the plant say they believe the owners mean well.

“All they have stressed to me was the importance of their employees and the safety of them,” said restaurant owner Curley Harris. “So, overall, I think it’s a good place to work.”

Everyone knows the dangers that come with these jobs.

“The work they do is definitely important, and the people that work there are a special breed of people,” said Harris.

Catrina says she's just ready to move on.

“I just want everything to be over. I just want to go on with my daily life,” said Jones. “God didn't bring me this far to fail me, baby.”

Catrina spent five weeks in the hospital. The two others who were severely burned spent months in the hospital. One of them just got out last week. The company has reopened the plant and may choose to appeal the TOSHA report.

abc24.com has contacted Kilgore for a comment on the investigation, but no one has returned phone calls.

According to the state report, the fire was started by an electrostatic discharge, but investigators couldn't pinpoint the exact source.

Seven people have died in fires at the Kilgore plant in the last 25 years, according to TOSHA.
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