Two women have passed away and four others are injured as a result of an explosion at 11:19 a.m. Friday, February 6 at an Ultratec Special Effects facility in Huntsville, AL.
Marie Sanderson died on the scene, and Aimee Cothran died at Huntsville Hospital, according to AL.com. Both were Ultratec employees.
Two others were seriously injured: One man suffered severe injuries to his knee and face, and McKenna Whorton, daughter of State Representative Ritchie Whorton, was flown to the UAB Burn Center in critical condition, according to WAFF.com. Two more men also suffered minor cuts.
On the day of the incident, Ultratec released a statement on its website. Here is an excerpt:
Our heartfelt thoughts and prayers go out to those individuals and their families. Safety is our first priority. Ultratec is committed to investigating the incident and will assist local, state and federal officials in determining its cause. Our immediate focus is assisting the employees and their families whose loved ones were lost or injured today.
The explosion occurred during the mixing process for fireworks. Houses and cars up to a mile away from the facility shook from the loud explosion, and flames and smoke were seen from the same distance, according to AL.com. The building where the explosion occurred appeared to have a hole in the roof, but it has not been confirmed how many other buildings were damaged.
FBI, Alabama State Fire Marshal, and local law enforcement responded to the scene, and hazmat units were gone by 4 p.m. The water and air were tested hourly and determined to be safe. Investigation into the cause of the explosion continues.
The Ultratec fireworks plant has had a history with explosions and fires, according to WAFF.com. In 2013, two people were hurt in an explosion that destroyed a building. One person was injured in 2012 from a chemical fire. A chemical fire damaged a building, but hurt no one in 2010. In 1999, Ultratec - then called LunaTech - suffered an explosion on site that killed one person.