30 Oct Worker Hurt in Dust Explosion at Maryland Fiber Factory
Officials believe a mechanical failure in a piece of production equipment caused a fire and dust explosion last Saturday afternoon at a Chestertown, MD natural fiber processing plant that left one worker with injuries.
About 50 firefighters responded to the Creafill Fibers Corporation facility after receiving a call at about 3:10 p.m., bringing the fire under control within two hours, according to information posted by the Office of the Maryland State Fire Marshal.
“An employee observed a small fire located inside a production machine and powered off the machine. Upon opening a filter cover within the machine to investigate further, the employee was flown back as a result of a pressure wave created by a subsequent dust explosion,” the state fire marshal’s report said.
The worker managed to flee the scene and call 911. After emergency personnel arrived at the scene, they were transported to an area hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. Creafill Fibers’ plant sustained an estimated $20,000 in structural damages and a loss $80,000 of the plant’s contents.
“Proper activation of the structure’s sprinkler system and pressure relief vent system is credited with preventing significant damage,” said the state fire marshal’s office.
A fine, powdery paper material is believed to have been the ignition source, according to a press release by the Chestertown Volunteer Fire Department posted to the Kent County Crier’s website. Crews were able to bring the scene under control within two hours.
Creafill Fibers processes cellulosic fibers into fine powders and highly fibrillated flock for industrial, asphalt, food, and filtration applications.