Fatal explosion inside New Jersey warehouse

One dead, three critical
January 15, 2008 3:48:10 PM PST
A steam explosion inside a Carlstadt metal casting plant killed one worker and injured nine others, three critically. Authorities say the explosion rocked Tec-Cast, an aluminum castings company located at a one-story building at 440 Meadow Lane, just after 8 a.m.

"They said they felt a concussion in the back of their building, like a truck had run into [the] building," said Rich Wolfin, who works next door. "And they heard a huge explosion. And we immediately called 911."

One worker, reported to be a 61-year-old maintenance supervisor, was killed when he was hit by flying debris. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Nine others were injured, three critically. Six others suffered broken bones and lacerations from the pressure of the impact. They were taken to Hackensack University Medical Center and other area hospitals, according to officials.

"It's mind-boggling," said Sydoni Porter, who works in a neighboring building. "I'm not so sure it's safe anymore. But I certainly hope there will be a thorough investigation."

Authorities say workers were conducting maintenance on air pressure vat, used to pour molten metals into cast machine, when there was an air pressure malfunction.

The door exploded off the 4-foot wide red vat, sending debris flying.

"The maintenance personnel were working on a pressurized air vessel, which is used in the process of castings, when the explsion occurred," Carlstadt police captain Franklin Smith said.

The victim has been identified by family members as Mario Gomez, of Jersey City, New Jersey. They say he has been working at the Tec-Cast plant for the last 10 years.

The company, founded more than 30 years ago, manufactures aluminum molds, tools and machine parts inside its 13,696 foot warehouse.