One man died and more than 125 people were injured November 20 when two chemical explosions ripped through Verla International, a cosmetics manufacturing facility in New Windsor, NY located about 55 miles north of New York City.
William Huntington Risked Life Looking for Survivors of First Verla Explosion
William Huntington, 57, of Newburgh was listed as missing for about nine hours after two explosions and fires ravaged the 52,000-square-foot facility on Temple Hill Road. A co-worker told the Associated Press that after the first blast, which occurred around 10:15 a.m., Huntington went back into the building to see if everyone had gotten out safely so he was inside the building when the second blast occurred around 10:40 a.m. Huntington’s body was recovered by firefighters later that day.
Seven firefighters who were also in the building at the time of the second blast were injured. Two of them suffered burns and were transported to the Westchester Medical Center burn unit in Valhalla. Verla employees and other firefighters who were injured were treated at St. Luke’s Cornwall Hospital in Newburgh which called in extra staff to treat more than 125 people. Most of those injured were treated and released, but some had to be decontaminated, according to a report in the Times Herald-Record.
Officials have not yet discovered the cause of the Verla International explosions. Gathering and preserving evidence in the early stages of an investigation is crucial to a successful personal injury or wrongful death explosion lawsuit, said Fred Pritzker, a lawyer who has won settlements over $10 million for explosion victims and their families.
Police have identified the employee who was killed in a chemical explosion at a New Windsor plant yesterday. This comes as we are learning more information on safety violations there: https://t.co/j6C5JTXY3Y
(Video sent in by a Verla employee.) pic.twitter.com/xWUuPNqZyM
— Spectrum News HV (@SPECNewsHV) November 21, 2017
Verla has been producing private label cosmetics for 37 years. Earlier this year, the OSHA found safety violations, nine of which were considered serious. Those violations pertained to storage of flammable and combustible liquids; respiratory protection; eye and face protection; maintenance of exit routes and medical services and first aid.
Investigation Looking at Chemical Storage and Boilers at Verla International
Governor Andrew Cuomo announced a multi-agency investigation into working conditions at Verla yesterday. Because these were “chemical explosions” (Cuomo), the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) will investigate how the company stored, used, and disposed of chemicals at the plant. DEC will be looking at whether environmental violations led to the explosions and fire. The NY Department of State Division of Building Standards and Codes will be looking at whether there were any building code violations at the plant and, if so, whether the violations caused the explosion or contributed to the spread of the fire. The Department of Labor has a team working on determining if one of the three boilers at the plant was involved in the explosion. That team will also work on determining if any asbestos is present. If any is found, steps will need to be take to protect investigators and others at the site.
To contact Fred Pritzker or another explosion lawyer at our law firm, call 1-888-377-8900 (toll free) or use our online form.