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posted: 1/8/2010 12:01 AM

Blast at Ind. steel plant kills 1, injures 4

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PORTAGE, Ind. -- An explosion at a steel plant in Portage killed one worker and injured four more on Thursday, a fire official said.

Portage Fire Chief Bill Lundy said the blast at the Beta Steel Corp. plant around 7 p.m. may have happened because water somehow met with molten steel.

One person died at the scene, Lundy said.

He described two of the workers who were hurt in the blast as "walking wounded" and said they were taken to Portage Community Hospital. The other two were more seriously injured and were taken to Porter Memorial Hospital and Methodist Hospital Northlake, he said.

Lundy said they all suffered steam burns he but had no other details about their injuries. He said all the casualties were Beta Steel employees.

A nursing supervisor at Methodist Hospital Northlake told WGN that one patient was taken there with a burn to his face.

Lundy said the plant was not on fire but that there had been some damage to the furnace area.

Calls to the Beta Steel plant reached voicemail Thursday night.

In March 1996, three steelworkers at Beta Steel were killed when a pressurized water-air tank at the Portage steelmaker's lakefront plant exploded. Eight others were injured.

A worker for an electrical contractor died at the plant in January 2000 after apparently being electrocuted while working on transformers in the plant's control room. And an explosion at the same plant in November last year left eight people injured.

Beta Steel produces hot-rolled coil for steel service

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