U.S. Plastic Lumber Corp.'s plastic lumber production facility in Ocala is temporarily closed after an Aug. 18 explosion that claimed the life of one worker and injured one other.
The early morning explosion occurred in an outdoor recycled wood drying area, company officials said, an apparent gas explosion that happened during start-up of the unit. Officials estimate the plant will be closed for about two weeks while the company completes an investigation into the accident and its causes and commences repair.
Deceased victim Scott R. Stokes, 34, was about 10 feet from the explosion, Ocala City officials said. Injury victim Michael Day, 25, was about 30 feet from the explosion. Day suffered minor injuries. He has been released from Munroe Regional Medical Center in Ocala.
``We are deeply saddened by the fatality caused by the incident,'' President Mark Alsentzer said in an Aug. 19 statement. ``The safety of our employees is of utmost importance to both the company and myself. We are actively investigating the cause of the accident and will take the necessary steps to ensure the safety of our employees.''
Foul play is not suspected, officials said.
``It appears to be nothing more than an unfortunate accident,'' said Russ Kern, sergeant and public information officer with the Ocala Police Department.
USPL is based in Boca Raton, Fla. Its Ocala site is about seven blocks west of the Ocala City Complex, where employees felt the power of the explosion. Witnesses reported a ball of fire going up into the sky, said Wendell Rora, captain and public information officer with Ocala Fire Rescue, in an Aug. 18 telephone interview.
Rora estimated that nearly 40 employees evacuated the building.
USPL operates one other production facility in Chicago.
USPL has a total of 322 employees.