Men suffer severe burns in chemical explosion

Men suffer severe burns in chemical explosion

(WMC-TV) - Two men have severe burns covering 80 to 100 percent of their bodies after a chemical explosion early this morning.

Several teams of investigators are at the site of the explosion working to figure out exactly what happened.

"It was loud, it was," said Sherita Miller, who lives four blocks away. "It shook me out of the bed. I actually thought maybe a plane had hit the house."

"It was fire falling out of the sky last night, it was like a nuclear bomb, you know," said Andrew Mason, who also lives nearby.

It took firefighters nearly two full hours to stabilize the scene, which was confined to one large building on the plant's property.

"There are pharmaceuticals that are made in that area," said Lt. Wayne Cook, Memphis Fire Department. "There was a transfer of the product from one customer to another. During the process of that transfer there was some sort of explosion."

Two employees were rushed to The MED in critical condition with burns covering 80 to 100 percent of their bodies.

Ten other employees on that shift at the time were not hurt.

Neighbors are concerned with what was spilled into the air.

"It was a red haze," said Miller. "If you saw it, it was like a fog out."

But Memphis firefighters say there is no danger to the community and no need for evacuation.

"I mean, that was horrifying," said Miller. "It scared us. It scared us, a lot."

Tennessee OSHA has a team on the scene investigating the explosion.

Voicemails for PennAKem have not been returned.

Copyright 2012 WMC-TV. All rights reserved.