Firefighters First on Scene of Plant Collapse Speak - FOX 42: Omaha News, Sports and Weather; kptm.com |

Firefighters First on Scene of Plant Collapse Speak

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OMAHA (KPTM)- Trapped workers, twisted metal, cracked concrete, and heavy smoke were just some of what firefighters said they found when rushing to the scene of the ‘International Nutrition' plant collapse.

"I just remember thinking you have 18-inch steel bend in half, twisted, going all these different directions and you're thinking what kind of energy does it take to make that happen? What type of force does it cause to make metal that big bend?" said Captain Dustin Guzman.

"We get dispatched, and numerous times when you show up, it's not as bad as they said," said Captain Dave Korhoffer.

Korhoffer said, on Monday, that wasn't the case. "We immediately saw two people who had second and third degree burns."

The fire was first reported around 10 o'clock Monday, January 20th at the ‘International Nutrition' plant near 77th and F streets. Firefighters said that when they got there, they surveyed the area and went into rescue mode.

"That's when we noticed there were workers trapped maybe 70 feet off the ground on what was left of the third floor a very small area in a very precarious situation," said Korhoffer.

"The smoke at one point had allowed us not to see them anymore. We thought, wow this really going badly so we had to hurry and get that ladder up there," said Guzman.

Firefighters also had to free a man covered in concrete and metal. It took them 20-25 minutes.

"We had the metal we were cutting that was laying on top of him," said fireman, Josh Jensen.

Firefighters ended up rescuing 5 people from the plant collapse, and more than ten were injured. Two people, Keith Everett and David Ball, were found dead inside the plant.

"We train every day for certain scenarios. But we don't train every day for collapse-something like this you know that's a rarity," said Guzman.

Firefighters said they focus on their safety, but when it comes down to it, that becomes a second priority.

"They are in need of immediate help. They are in need of our services immediately. This is where that oath that we took when we took the job kicks in, where we're quite literally doing what we're trained to do," said Korhoffer.

 

OSHA and the Fire Department are currently investigating what happened at the plant.

The collapse Monday isn't the first time the plant has had safety issues.

In 2012, government inspectors gave ‘International Nutrition' six serious safety violations.

The violations included employees being exposed to corrosive materials, storage racks not secured to floor, walls or ceiling, employees exposed to flying chips and sparks, compressed air for cleaning set too high, and electrical boxes with no covers.

Steven Silver, president of International Nutrition released a statement that said, "We are Omaha natives, and have owned the company for more than 35 years. We are proud members of the Omaha and state chambers of commerce, and have always emphasized the importance of safety. We work with the Nebraska chapter of the National Safety Council and our procedures are ISO 9011 certified."

Silver also wrote, "In our more than 35 years of doing business, this is the most serious incident to ever happen at our operation, and we are fully cooperating with all government investigators to find the cause."

 Written By: Maureen Wurtz

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