CTA Acoustics Inc. is rebuilding its operations while also consoling the families and friends of four employees who died following a Feb. 20 explosion and fire that ripped through its Corbin, Ky., plant.
More than two dozen of the about 150 people at work that morning were hospitalized with burns and other injuries. James Lemmings, David Hamilton, Arnold Peters and David Messer died in the days following the fire.
Nine others remain hospitalized. The families have asked CTA not to discuss their status.
An investigation led by the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives determined the cause was accidental, sparked by one of ``several potential ignition sources'' near a furnace where CTA mixed raw materials for the fiberglass insulation it produces, primarily for the auto industry.
The firm now is concentrating on relaunching its production to continue supporting both its nearly 500 employees in the Corbin area and its customers, said spokesman Roy Winnick.
While the fire caused extensive damage to the material mixing area, the company's molding lines remained relatively intact. About half of CTA's employees, and 10 percent of its production staff, returned to the job Feb. 25. The company was preparing to bring all able-bodied workers back by the end of February.
``[Chief Executive Officer] Jim Pike has been on the plant floor every day since this happened, and [the workers] are doing a tremendous job,'' Winnick said. ``They've really risen to the occasion.''
Madison Heights, Mich.-based CTA has continued paying full salary and benefits to workers throughout the shutdown, he said, but also must meet production requirements from its customers.
``That is a priority,'' Winnick said. ``They've been quite understanding, but we want to continue working with them as quickly as possible.''
Ford Motor Co. has pledged to support CTA as it restarts production and beyond, he said. Other customers have shown extensive support.
The firm is running some operations at the damaged plant, but also has leased a nearly 1.1 million-square-foot building and will move offices and some production there. It is buying its raw material from an outside source until it can get its own lines up and running again.
CTA had pledged to rebuild in the Corbin area, either through the repair of its existing building or at another site, Winnick said.
The company also is working closely with employees to provide them with any needed counseling beyond physical injuries, picking up fees for any services not covered by other programs.
``The first priority all along has been taking care of our injured workers,'' Winnick said. ``Everything that can be done for them is being done.''