Four people were injured, two seriously, in an explosion last Thursday at Hazlehurst Wood Pellets’ plant here.
The two with serious injuries were transported by helicopters to a burn center and the other two were treated and released.
According to Hazlehurst/Jeff Davis County Fire Chief Charles Wasdin, apparently some pellets in a cooling system became overheated and workers dropped them out of the cooler to the outside and were trying to cool them down. But before the pellets were cooled, a flash fire broke out and the fire went back up into the cooler and there was an explosion.
One of the two with superficial wounds was treated and released at Jeff Davis Hospital. The other, who was from Alma, went by private vehicle to the hospital there and he, too, was treated and released.
Wasdin added that the area of the plant in which the explosion occurred was the same area where a fire broke out in 2015.
Since that 2015 fire, the company spent millions of dollars on a fire suppression system, Wasdin said. “And it did the job,” he added. “It held the fire in check until we got there. We still had to put out some hot spots, and it took us about 5-6 hours., but that (fire suppression system) was a great investment by the company.”
Jeff Davis Emergency Medical Service Director Roger Ogilvie said the helicopters landed at Jeff Davis Hospital at the same time — one on the helipad and the other on the front lawn of the hospital.
He added that, before the EMTs could get the injured to the hospital, a rumor got out that there were 50 people injured in the explosion.
“When we got to the hospital they had an army of people under the bay area,” Ogilvie said. “They were prepared to treat a lot of people.”
Fortunately, there were only three treated there.