Just after midnight Thursday morning, a traffic camera belonging to the Ohio Department of Transportation monitoring the commute along I-670 captured the rising fireball from a deadly explosion at a paint factory in Columbus.
Massive explosion kills one
Authorities have confirmed that 44-year-old plant supervisor Wendell Light was discovered in the rubble of the collapsed building. According to Battalion Chief Steve Martin, around 9:16 a.m., after the fire was extinguished, the employee was found dead at the explosion site. He worked as “a press room supervisor for the family-owned business, which makes paints, resins and other coatings.”
Everyone in the city has been saturated with images from the explosion which was captured by the traffic camera and also by a surveillance camera at Ohio State Used Tires. That one shows a normal evening then the blast in the background. The Yenkin-Majestic Paints plant on Leonard Avenue suddenly detonated at 12:05 a.m., sending sparks, flames and smoke into the Columbus sky.
Professional photographer Brian Kellogg’s studio is a mere 500 feet from the plant. His cameras caught the disruption the explosion caused as evidence for his insurance claim. Police relate that “several people managed to escape the building on their own.” A total of eight were sent over to the hospital and none have threatening injuries. The latest report is that all eight patients are “stable.”
— Brian Kellogg (@briankellogg) April 8, 2021
Investigators on the way
The US Chemical Safety and Hazard Identification Board is already sending a team of investigators. “According to initial reports, an explosion and two-alarm fire erupted at the paint plant around midnight on Thursday April 8th,” they note in an official statement. “Approximately forty employees were believed to be working on site at the time of the incident.”
They also confirm that “The blast shook neighboring buildings and at least one nearby business sustained damage.” That would be the photography studio.” They also report, “emergency personnel were sent to the site after the explosion occurred and a two-alarm fire ignited at about midnight.”
The company wants the community to know “we are committed to uncovering the details behind this tragic accident. The welfare of our employees is of the utmost importance to our family.” They have already “hired environmental contractors to ensure that runoff from the firefighting efforts is contained and removed.” Ohio EPA spokesperson Anthony Chenault verifies the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency’s Emergency Response section is overseeing that work. Company officials are devastated. CEO Andrew Smith issued a statement that they are “working with firefighters and workplace safety investigators as they try to determine the cause of the explosion.”