The Latest: Fatal boiler blast comes despite tough licensing

AP News
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Posted: Apr 03, 2017 6:07 PM

ST. LOUIS (AP) — The Latest on the deadly explosion of a boiler in an industrial area of south St. Louis (all times local):

5 p.m.

A spokeswoman for St. Louis' mayor says the city has strict licensure requirements when it comes to boilers much like the van-sized one that exploded Monday morning, killing three people and injuring four others in two different businesses.

St. Louis Fire Chief Dennis Jenkerson said the boiler exploded at the Loy-Lange Box Co. in south St. Louis, killing one person there. The chief says much of that equipment flew about 500 feet (150 meters) across the street onto a laundry business, killing two people there when it came through the roof.

Two of the four survivors remained in critical condition later Monday.

Federal workplace safety officials are investigating.

Maggie Crane said on Mayor Francis Slay's behalf that although the city doesn't inspect boilers, it requires any business with one to have a city-licensed engineer on staff whenever one of those pieces of equipment is running. Crane says such licenses must be renewed each year.

Crane says Loy-Lange had three engineers on staff with up-to-date licenses as of Monday.

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4 p.m.

St. Louis Fire Chief Dennis Jenkerson says he believes a boiler explosion that killed three people and injured four others, two critically, in two different businesses was a commercial accident.

Jenkerson says two of the four survivors of the blast shortly before 8 a.m. Monday remain in critical condition. He says one of them was undergoing surgery.

Jenkerson says the boiler exploded at the Loy-Lange Box Co. in south St. Louis, killing one person there. The chief says much of that equipment flew about 500 feet (150 meters) across the street onto a laundry business, killing two people there when it came through the roof. The equipment is described as being the size of a van

Federal workplace safety officials are investigating.

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12:15 p.m.

Federal workplace safety regulators say a St. Louis company whose boiler exploded causing at least three deaths Monday has paid fines for workplace violations three times since 2014.

Scott Allen of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration says the Loy-Lange Box Co. paid a $3,741 fine after an August 2016 inspection found holes in floors that prevented proper cleaning.

An inspection in November 2014 found defective equipment, including a forklift without lights and damage to some safety latches. The company paid $6,566.

And in February 2014, the company paid $2,450 for defective energy control procedures, such as not properly training employees to ensure machinery was turned off and powered down.

Three people died and four were injured when the Loy-Lange boiler exploded, launching parts of it through the roofs of two nearby buildings. It's not clear if any of the earlier safety violations involved the boiler.

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11:30 a.m.

Federal workplace safety investigators are at the scene of an industrial boiler explosion that killed three people and hospitalized four others.

Scott Allen with the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration says OSHA investigators arrived at Loy-Lange Box Co. not long after the blast Monday morning.

St. Louis Fire Chief Dennis Jenkerson says the explosion launched a boiler the size of a van through the box company's roof and slammed much of it down hundreds of feet away in a neighboring laundry business.

Jenkerson says the dead include one person at the box company and two at the laundry.

Online OSHA records show that Loy-Lange has paid more than $12,700 in fines as part of three investigation since 2014. The records don't list specifics about the cases, and it's unclear if any citations were related to the boiler or other equipment.

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10 a.m.

St. Louis Fire Chief Dennis Jenkerson says a boiler that killed one person when it exploded at a box company in St. Louis flew about 500 feet before crashing through the roof of a nearby laundry business, killing two more.

The boiler exploded Monday morning at the Loy-Lange Box Co. Four other people were injured and at least two are in critical condition.

A third person at Faultless Healthcare Linen was pinned under the boiler but fire department responders were able to free that victim.

Jenkerson says the boiler was a cast iron cylinder about 8 or 9 feet long and 4 feet in diameter, weighing about 1½ tons. He says it was about the size of a van.

A piece of pipe about 8 feet long pierced the roof of the nearby Pioneer Industrial Corp., but no one was injured there.

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9:30 a.m.

Authorities say three people were killed and four others injured when a boiler exploded in a building in an industrial area of south St. Louis, reportedly sending the boiler airborne and through the roof of a nearby building.

The St. Louis Fire Department said on Twitter that two of the victims sustained critical injuries in the blast shortly before 8 a.m. Monday at the Loy-Lange Box Co.

Fire officials say at least three buildings have been damaged by debris.

Fire Chief Dennis Jenkerson said part of the boiler housed in an office area went through Loy-Lange's roof.

Jenkerson told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that the explosion seems to have been accidental and that investigators will review machine maintenance records.

No other details have been released, including whether anyone was working on the boiler at the time of the explosion.

The phone rang unanswered at Loy-Lange Box Co., and an email message by The Associated Press to the company wasn't immediately returned.

The company is described on its website as a "full service corrugator and custom box manufacturer."

Messages left with a fire department spokesman were not immediately returned.