The recycling facility worker hospitalized last month in a fire that killed another worker at the Springdale plant has been released from a Missouri hospital, according to hospital officials.
Howard Marshall had been airlifted in critical condition, along with Matthew Chwirka, to Mercy Hospital in Springfield, Mo., on July 17 following a fire at an Advanced Environmental Recycling Technologies plant. Marshall’s condition was later stabilitzed, but Chwirka died from his injuries, officials said.
Marshall has since been released from Mercy, according to hospital officials.
The federal investigation into the fire is still ongoing, according to documents from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. OSHA is also still investigating a fire that occurred eight days later at an AERT plant in Lowell, in which no workers were injured.
A third worker was injured in the fire, although he was released by medical crews the same day.
Kevin McDonald, Springdale’s assistant fire chief, said the fire started in a mixer during production.
“The dust associated with the type of process goes on here resulted in some type of a flash fire that encapsulated three of the employees,” McDonald said.
Multiple ambulance and fire crews responded at about 2:30 p.m. to the fire at 914 N. Jefferson St. Crews had the fire under control just after 4 p.m., according to the Springdale Fire Department.
Operations at the facility stopped, and workers were evacuated.
Neighbor Charles Clark said he heard the fire trucks.
“I came outside and I walked up to where I could see the building, I couldn’t see any flames coming from the building,” Clark said. “I have a scanner and I heard them talking about a fire inside one of the silos.”
Firefighters checked for hot spots and took machinery apart. The Lowell Fire Department also responded to the scene.
“It’s not as cut and dry as just going in there and applying water and putting the fire out,” Capt. Kissinger said. “They’ve got to actually take apart some of the machinery to get to the hot spots.”
According to the company, the last fire it had was in February 2012. Since then, they said AERT has taken steps.
“Every time they have a fire AERT tries to learn from what we discovered, what caused it and try to take measures to prevent those kinds of fires again,” McDonald said.
AERT crews dismantled a silo at the Lowell plant July 27 in response to a separate explosion and fire that occurred July 25.
AERT released a statement later in the day that said:
“AERT experienced a silo rupture at 7:18 am at its Lowell, AR plastic recycling facility where the roof panels popped off, as designed, due to pressure build up in the plastic silo. Lowell fire and company officials were on site and the Lowell fire department responded, initially secured the area, and extinguished the material inside the silo at approximately 12:00 pm. At 3:50 pm the material reignited and Lowell Fire Department returned and extinguished the fire.
The Lowell plant was evacuated as a safety precaution and will resume normal operations shortly. There were no injuries related to this incident. The company will disassemble the silo, remove the material, and make appropriate repairs and safety inspections.
Additional information will be forth coming once the silo is inspected.”