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Five Injured in Plant Explosion

Wed, 08/17/2011 - 5:51am
the Associated Press

HERSCHER, Ill. (AP) — An explosion during a welding job injured five people Tuesday at a gas pipeline company's plant in northeastern Illinois, company officials said.

Police received a call about an explosion at Natural Gas Pipeline Company of America in Herscher before 10 a.m. Kinder Morgan Inc. owns the company, and spokesman Joe Hollier said the flash fire was extinguished immediately and is under investigation.

Herscher is community with less than 2,000 people about 60 miles southwest of Chicago. The plant is located on a county road away from the community's business district.

The explosion occurred while crews performed routine maintenance in the main compressor building, said Kankakee County Sheriff's chief deputy Ken McCabe. He also said the fire was quickly extinguished.

"They were conducting some maintenance," McCabe said. "It was not caused by a gas leak. It was not leaking gas that exploded."

Three people were taken to Riverside Medical Center. Two suffered minor injuries, while the third was airlifted to the burn unit at Loyola University Hospital in Maywood, The Daily Journal in Kankakee reported. Two other people were taken to Provena St. Mary's Hospital in Kankakee.

McCabe said four of the employees had been released from hospitals by Tuesday afternoon, while a fifth was reported in stable condition.

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