3 hurt in Cary factory explosion
20 nearby businesses evacuated in Cary
Multiple explosions at a Cary paint factory Wednesday injured three people and prompted the evacuation of more than 20 neighboring businesses, emergency officials said.
Three people were immediately taken from Fox Valley Systems Inc., Cary Police Chief Steven Casstevens said. All were taken first to Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital near Lake Barrington, but a hospital representative said all had been transferred elsewhere by early evening.
Jeff Macko, chief of the Cary Fire Protection District, said all three had burns that were not life-threatening.
Police and fire were called after an explosion about 1:10 p.m. that blew out a brick wall at the front of the building at 640 Industrial Drive. Rescuers arrived at about the time of a second explosion, Casstevens said. There were approximately two dozen employees in the factory at that time.
Police evacuated 20 to 25 businesses along Industrial Drive as fire engines from across the region arrived to assist.
Firefighters worked to keep water on the fire at Fox Valley Systems for hours but waited for a foam-spraying truck to arrive to put out the blaze, which was spurred on by hazardous materials in the paint factory, Casstevens said. The foam truck arrived shortly before 3:30 p.m. A hazardous-materials response team was also on scene.
Casstevens said fire departments were starting to pick up their lines about 5:30 p.m. and expected to leave the scene within an hour.
Macko said the fire district's investigation team would return to the scene Thursday morning.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is called in to investigate all workplace incidents of this kind.
Wayne Wesley lives a few blocks from the factory on West Margaret Terrace. He felt the initial explosion and thought something had hit his house. A look around his property confirmed the damage was not of Wesley's home, but he said he knew when he heard sirens it was something serious.
"It felt almost like an earthquake," Wesley said.
The smell of smoke filled the air Wednesday afternoon as local employees and neighbors paced the area along Cary-Algonquin Road near Route 14. At least a dozen fire engines and police cars flashed emergency lights as crews worked to put out the fire and assess the damage.
Casstevens said the cause of the explosions has yet to be determined.
According to its website, Fox Valley Systems started in 1970 and created the first aerosol spray can that works upside down. It sells marking paint and equipment, including devices to stripe roads and athletic fields.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration investigated an accident at the facility in November 1995. Two workers were burned when they were flushing a spray paint can filling line with toluene; waste solvent was drained to a bucket, and its splash generated a static charge which produced a spark and ignited vapors, according to a report on the OSHA website.
• Daily Herald staff writers Susan Sarkauskas and Jessica Cilella contributed to this report.