Chemical plant explosion in Wisconsin

March 18, 2008 8:32:26 AM PDT
At least two people were injured Tuesday in a chemical plant explosion in northwestern Wisconsin, authorities said. The plant, owned by Cortec Corp., manufactures aerosols and paint solvents and has about eight employees.

"We had a small explosion unrelated to production," Cortec vice president Anna Vignetti said. "That's all we know right now."

The two injured workers suffered what were believed to be first- or second-degree burns, Vignetti said.

Vignetti said she did not yet know how much damage had been done to the plant. The facility, about 100 miles northeast of the Twin Cities, was shut down pending further investigation.

Spooner Health System spokeswoman Cindy Rouzer said two patients were being treated in the emergency room. She could not comment on their condition, she said.

Wisconsin Emergency Management spokeswoman Lori Getter said the plant was evacuated and emergency workers set up a two-block perimeter around it.

Ruth Skeie, director of the Spooner Area Chamber of Commerce, said she could see smoke from the Cortec blast at her office a mile away.

Nearby schools were keeping children inside after the explosion, Getter said. Spooner has a population of about 2,700.