Ten people were seriously injured Thursday after an explosion at a Chicago water reclamation plant authorities said may have been caused by a buildup of methane gas.
Two of the 10 injured had to be rescued from the rubble after the explosion caused a section of the building’s roof to collapse around 11 a.m. Thursday.
Chicago Fire Department firefighters pulled one person out shortly after the collapse. For the second person, Commissioner Jose Santiago said it took about two hours to rescue the victim, who was “buried and entombed” by fallen debris. Paramedics attended to the man, who suffered a broken jaw and leg, until he could be extricated.
“Companies had to dig 6 feet down and then tunnel their way across 20 feet to the victim,” said Santiago.
Firefighters removed a metal beam from the worker’s legs while paramedics worked to keep the worker from going into shock, the commissioner said. Emergency crews made sure to relieve pressure on the worker’s arms and legs so he would not face amputation.
The other people who were injured were taken to area hospitals in serious-to-critical condition.
Authorities are investigating whether the explosion was caused by a buildup of methane, a byproduct of the treatment process.
The explosion occurred at a sludge concentration building at the Calumet Water Reclamation Plant at 430 East 130th Street at 11 a.m., a spokesperson for the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District said.
The plant is the oldest of seven Metropolitan Water Reclamation District treatment facilities, according to the agency’s website. It began operations in 1922 and serves more than 1 million people in a 300-square-mile area in the southern portion of Cook County. There was no immediate word from the district how the explosion will affect operations.