State Investigating Millington Plant Fire

State Investigating Millington Plant Fire

Shelby County fire and state safety investigators are all looking into what caused the fire, but it could take weeks to find answers.
MILLINGTON, TN (localmemphis.com) - Two Millington chemical plant workers are in stable condition one day after a huge fire.

Both workers were seriously burned in the fire; one has burns on over 60 percent of his body.

Shelby County fire and state safety investigators are all looking into what caused the fire, but it could take weeks to find answers.

"There's times it makes you wonder what all they're doing over there because of the odor," said Paul Cartwright with Memphis International Raceway, which is right across the street from Pollution Control Industries.

He also witnessed the fire Thursday. "it was quite a deal. fire was up above building about 20 feet at one time."

According to Brent Perkins, Public Information Officer for the Shelby County Fire Department, "You can't be involved in this sort of industry without being exposed to some sort of danger."

Fire Investigators are looking at how the blaze started. They say it could've been much worse.

"We pre-plan emergencies at not only this… and we've actually drilled here with these individuals, which is why there was a better outcome than had we not done that."

Firefighters are familiar with the plant and what chemicals are on site. Inspectors with Tennessee's Department of Environment and Conservation and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration were all there.

"I had TOSHA dig into this company as well; we found quite a bit more inspections than we thought," stated Jeff Hentschel with the Tennessee Department of Labor.

The plant has been inspected 18 times in the last 12 years. Most were for noise or chemical concerns. The most serious was in 2001 when there was another fire where a worker died.

"They were charged $78,750 in fines related to that," said Hentschel.

Over the next few weeks inspectors will conduct interviews, take pictures, and examine safety logs to determine if any violations contributed to this week's fire.

The investigation could take six to eight weeks. None of the chemicals released in the fire are toxic but there are mandated ways of cleaning them up.

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