The U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) is investigating the April 3 boiler explosion at Loy-Lange Box Co. in St. Louis that killed four people and injured three others. The explosion launched a 3,000-pound tank through Loy-Lange’s roof and sent it hurtling through the air the distance of a city block before it crashed through the roof of Faultless Healthcare Linen.
Loy-Lange employee Kenneth Trentham, 59, was pronounced dead at the scene. Tonya Gonzalez-Suarez, 43, and her husband 46-year-old Christopher Watkins, who were about to start their first day of work at Faultless, were killed instantly. Their friend Clifford Lee, 53, also preparing to start his first day at Faultless, died from his injuries three days after the explosion. One person remains hospitalized in critical condition.
The tank that was thrown by the blast was about three feet wide and 20 to 25 feet long. The CSB has determined that the tank was a vertical condensate storage tank or semi-closed receiver that provided condensate or hot water to the steam generated boiler system. An initial visual examination of the talk indicates failure of the bottom pressure boundary, according to a CSB update on the investigation. The agency has not yet determined what caused the failure.
At the time of the explosion, the tank contained about 510 gallons of 330˚F water. When the tank failed, the water rushed out and converted to steam producing a force so strong that the tank ripped from its fittings and launched on its deadly trajectory. At a speed of 120 mph, the tank flew about 425 feet into the air and about 515 feet from its starting point, remaining airborne for over 10 seconds, the CSB has determined. (Loy-Lange is located at 222 Russell Boulevard; Faultless Healthcare Linen is one block away at the corner of Russell Boulevard and South Broadway.)
The Sons and Daughters of Soulard, a charitable group, has set up a GoFundMe page to help the victims and their families.
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