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ATF Investigates Explosions At Kilgore Plant; One Hurt

(Toone, TN) The ATF is back at the Kilgore Flares Plant in Hardeman County.

Saturday, two explosions happened at the facility, though the second was a “controlled explosion,” according to the ATF.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Public Information Officer Special Agent Michael P. Knight told WREG, “a federal search warrant was executed at the business on Sunday after Kilgore wouldn’t let investigators onto the plant.”

Knight said Kilgore wanted to protect trade secrets first before anyone came in, and it does happen from time to time.

“The ATF National Response Team has been activated and will begin processing the scene Sunday afternoon,” said Knight. The team is composed of bomb technicians, fire experts, chemists and engineers from across the country.

Sunday, the Tennessee Bomb and Arson Department borrowed the highway patrol’s helicopter to take aerial pictures of the property.

One employee was injured in the first explosion at the plant which is located in Toone, TN Saturday morning.

The employee, Michael Chism, was flown to The MED to be treated for severe burns over 90 percent of his body.

The explosion shook Cardarius Hill’s house and also shook his family to its core. Chism is Hill’s cousin.

“They say they don’t know if he is going to make it or not,” said Hill.

Most of Michael Chism’s family gathered near his hospital bed.

“He’s in critical condition at The MED, at the burn unit,” said Hardeman County Sheriff John Doolen.

Other measures included waiting in the parking lot.

“It’s bad. They need to shut Kilgore down. That’s what they need to do,” said another one of Chism’s cousins.

The ATF said Kilgore has had several explosions with fatalities in the last decade.

A death in 2001 led OSHA to fine the plant $200,000 for workplace violations. OSHA is one several agencies investigating the explosion Sunday.

The plant makes flares for the military. It is the largest employer in Toone.

Daphne Woods’ sister was hurt in a 2010 explosion at the plant. Three fourths of her body was burned. Her sister survived, and wants the Chism family to know there is hope.

“I was going through the same thing they were going through. I got a 7-year-old niece. She asked me, ‘Is mommy going to die?’ said Woods. “All the got to do is hope and pray.”

The ATF said it should have answers by Tuesday morning.

Kilgore released a statement saying it will cooperate fully with federal, state and local authorities to get to the bottom of what happened.

10 comments

  • TAMMY RUSSOM MURPHY

    You keep reporting about the 2 that have been killed down there. What about the 6 or 7 that were killed there since 1986. There were 2 killed and one seriously burned in 1986 including my husband! He was only 21 years old with a brand new 5 week old baby boy that he never got to see grow into a wonderful strong young man. 5 years latter my son started kindergarden in the elementary school in Toone and in the first few months of school he and his whole school had to be evacuated because of a exsplosion and fire at KILGORE. I WORKED THERE MY SELF. People don’t work there to help or protect the USA they work there because there aren’t any jobs in this area and they need to work to provide for there families (money AND insurance). They don’t need praise they need better working conditions and if they can’t get that they need to shut it down!! Unemployment is a lot better than a widows pay! Take my word for it!!!

  • Debbie

    Don’t forget the explosion in September 2010 that killed one and scarred 2 for life, plus the people that have PTSD.

  • MikeBarret

    What do they make at this factory? Flares and it says Countermeasures on their sign, are they making flares for military jets etc?

  • Concerned citizen of Hardeman Co.

    I’m praying for all the family the work at this plant and love ones that have losses due to working at this plant. I worked there for ten years and I was afraid a lot of days but as someone stated earlier I had to provide for my family.

  • John Tilmon

    There was an explosion and a person was killed. First responders should have entered the plant and made sure the public was safe. Private property doesn’t matter when you put people in danger. The town of Toone shirked their responsibility to protect the public by not entering the plant in spite of their protest.

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