The deadly fire at Verla International’s cosmetics factory in New Windsor, New York on November 20th was determined to be “accidental in nature,” the Orange County Fire Investigation Unit reports.
What exactly caused it? The chemical, hexamethyldisiloxane, ABC Eyewitness News reports.
During the manufacturing process, a worker was wiping excess product in the batch room and Orange County Fire Coordinator Vini Tankasali explained to MidHudsonNews, “the fire began when static electricity caused ignition of an ignitable liquid chemical.”
Several websites show a disturbing video of the initial blast, and the employee engulfed in flames. However, that employee was wearing protective gear and he sustained only minor injuries.
The initial explosion sparked a massive fire, as well as a second explosion 25 minutes later that produced thick, black smoke.
One employee, 57-year-old William Huntington of Newburgh, was killed in the fire. Verla International issued the statement, ”Bill was a valued employee and we at Verla are sorry to his friends and family for their loss.”
A co-worker, Juan Pablo Marcos, told The Associated Press that Huntington had gone back inside after the first explosion to make sure everyone had gotten out safely, and was still inside during the second explosion.
Eight firefighters from Newburgh were also inside the factory during the second explosion, and sustained injuries including severe facial burns. Over a dozen employees also suffer from sustained injuries, while more than 100 workers were treated at nearby hospitals immediately after the incident.