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Explosion at Meat Processing Plant Injures 2

Two contractors were taken to the hospital after the electrical panel they were working on exploded, fire chief said.

An explosion Saturday morning at a West Caldwell meat processing plant sent two contractors to the hospital with serious burns and forced an evacuation of the smoke-filled building.

West Caldwell Fire Chief Jim Alvine said two contractors were working on an electrical panel at Al & John Inc. on Clinton Road when it exploded, sparking a fire in the electrical room on the building's right side and filling the entire rear of the building with smoke.

Contractors Francois MacFarlane, of Brooklyn, N.Y., and Jason Defaoite, of Oak Ridge, N.J., were treated at the scene and transported to St. Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston with serious burns, West Caldwell police chief Michael Bramhall said. Their injuries are believed to be the result of an arc flash in the electrical room.

The West Caldwell Fire Department had the situation under control in about 15 minutes, Alvine said. The electrically charged nature of the fire made it unsafe for firefighters to extinguish with water, but a shutdown of the electrical panels caused the fire to dissipate and eventually extinguish on its own.

Once extinguished, firefighters performed a search of the building and removed the thick smoke that clouded its interior.

As of 11:30 a.m. Saturday, Alvine said the power at the plant had been restored in all but the right side of the building where the explosion occurred. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration conducted a complete investigation later in the day.

The Caldwell Fire Department, West Essex First Aid Squad, MONOC Paramedics, West Caldwell Police Department and Fairfield Police Department also responded and assisted at the scene.

E.D. December 08, 2012 at 09:02 PM
Thank God for ALL our volunteer departments and the quick thinking of the local police department. All these men and women put their lives on the line on a daily basis for all of us
Michael December 14, 2012 at 01:25 PM
Were these guys union workers? I am inclined to think they were since the lib reporter didn't mention the company name and have some kind of comment about them being non union.
Michael December 14, 2012 at 01:28 PM
I have been working on service panels for years and only a moron would work on it while it is energized or energize it before it was inspected.

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