Worker Killed In Springdale Business Fire Identified, OSHA Investigates

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The Advanced Environmental Recycling Technologies worker who died from injuries sustained in a fire at the Springdale plant Wednesday has now been identified.

Officials said the worker killed from injuries sustained in the fire is Matthew Chwirka. He died at a burn center in Springfield, Mo., according to the company.

The employee was one of three injured Wednesday (July 17). Howard Marshall was the other worker airlifted to Mercy Burn Center in Springfield. He remained in stable condition Thursday, according to AERT.

Out-of-state funeral arrangements are being made for Chwirka, company officials said.

“Our greatest sympathy is with the family and friends of the employee who lost his life, and with those who sustained injuries,” said Tim Morrison, AERT’s President, said in a statement Thursday. “We are providing support to families and associates to help them through this very difficult time.”

One employee is in stable condition at the burn center, while the third was treated and released from Northwest Medical Center, according to the company.

Assistant Fire Chief Kevin McDonald 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 Wednesday 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.

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