Investigation into explosion at Crane now underway

There is an investigation underway at Crane after an explosion.

Thursday evening, five people were rushed to IU Health Bloomington Hospital with minor injuries. The employees were released that same night. The employees were inside the pyrotechnics building, when the explosion happened.

“In (that) building, we make the illumination rounds for mortars. We call them illumination candles, which essentially the soldier shoots off from the mortar,  it goes into the air and illuminates the field in front of them,” Tom Peske said.

Peske is the public affairs officer for Crane Army Ammunition Activity.

“In that building, they are making chemicals and pressing it into the candle to support the round. It was at the end of production and part of (what happens is that) you want to make sure you don’t have any chemical or residue from the pyrotechnics. So, as part of that, they were doing the clean-up operations. As to what set off the explosion, that right now, we are investigating,” Peske said.

Peske said their employees are trained and safety is their No. 1 concern. He said their safety precautions worked because the employees were able to get the explosion under control immediately.

“From here, we just want to find out what caused the explosion, so that we can certainly avoid it in the future,” Peske said.

The entire building has been temporarily shutdown to determine the cause of the explosion.

Peske said they have been asked, because the illuminators are for mortars, whether the explosion is related to what happened in Nevada. In Nevada, there was a deadly explosion that killed seven marines, during training.

“This was not because of the mortars. This was because of the cleanup operations. So, they are not related,” Peske said.

The five employees, who were injured, were Steve Reed, Janeth Shahat, Connie Alsman, Dana Roach and Jason O’Conner.

“We just like to stress safety is actually our number one concern,” Peske said.

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