Probe into Minden explosion continues as victims recover
October 17, 2001
One month after a fatal explosion Sept. 17 at a Minden aerosol recycling plant, East Fork firefighters are still piecing together information regarding the blast.
East Fork Fire Capt. and Fire Investigator Terry Taylor said he will travel to Las Vegas this week to learn results of an autopsy report performed on Jamie Gonzales, who died Sept. 26 of injuries sustained during the explosion.
By conducting interviews and examining the autopsy, Taylor said he is trying to determine exactly where the five men who were injured stood when a series of explosions occurred inside Depressurized Technologies International Inc. about 7:40 p.m. on Sept. 17.
The determination is part of Taylor’s ongoing investigation into the blast. An investigation by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration is also continuing, said an OSHA official Tuesday.
The explosion tore off part of the building’s roof. The blast’s exact cause remains unknown, Taylor said.
Two of the four survivors remain hospitalized.
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Raul Gonzales, 24, is being treated at a burn center at the University of California, Davis.
Susano Lopez, 28, remains in serious condition in Las Vegas at University Medical Center, where he is being treated for burns.
The other two survivors, Celio and Elias San Juan, both 21, have returned to Douglas County after being treated at UC Davis and are staying with family members, who are now trained to treat the men’s burn injuries, Taylor said.
Although he is unsure of what caused the explosion, Taylor said Elias San Juan was driving a forklift at the time of the blast.
The forklift is one of four possible ignition sources. The others are static electricity, a nearby radio and a ventilator motor.
Taylor said he has also received help from the U.S. Navy, which has previously conducted research into aerosol containers and how to avoid explosions involving recycling the containers and their propellants.