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Cause of foundry explosion still undetermined, but investigators don't believe it was criminal

Oakwood foundry explosion
Posted at 9:00 PM, Feb 27, 2023
and last updated 2023-02-27 21:00:23-05

While the cause of last Monday's deadly explosion at the metal foundry in the Village of Oakwood, near Bedford, is still undetermined, investigators do not believe it was the result of a criminal act, and have determined where the fire originated.

On the afternoon of Feb. 21, there was a massive explosion and fire at the I. Schumann & Co. metal facility that killed a 46-year-old maintenance worker and left 13 other workers injured, according to company and Oakwood Fire officials.

The origin of the fire has been determined to be the interior of the structure in or around furnace No. 5, according to a news release from the Ohio Department of Commerce. The exact cause of "this deadly failure" is still unknown, but investigators are hopeful that furnace experts will be able to provide answers about the cause, the release states.

The joint investigation is ongoing with contributions from Oakwood Fire and Police, The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Cleveland Office, the Public Utility Commission of Ohio, the Ohio EPA, Chagrin Valley Dispatch, OSHA, First Energy, and Dominion Gas, the news release states.

Shortly after 2 p.m. on Feb. 21, emergency crews responded to I. Schumann & Co. for reports of an explosion and subsequent fire that blew debris over neighboring businesses, streets and cars. Located in the 22500 block of Alexander Road in the Village of Oakwood, the business is a brass and bronze alloy manufacturer.

Authorities said there were multiple burn victims taken from inside the plant to nearby hospitals. One person was taken by LifeFlight helicopter and flown to a hospital for treatment. Steven Mullins was pronounced dead at the scene.

According to federal inspection data, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration fined I. Schumann & Co. in 2019 and again in 2022. In 2019, investigators said an employee suffered third-degree burns to his chest and back after spilling molten metal onto his clothing, which was not fire-resistant or fire retardant.

Watch our report on the explosion from last week when we learned one worker was killed:

Multiple people injured; 1 killed in explosion at metal manufacturing facility

RELATED: More than a dozen injured; 1 killed in explosion at metal manufacturing facility near Bedford

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