A machine exploded last week at Arens Controls, a commercial automotive technology manufacturing plant in Arlington Heights, IL, killing one worker and injuring 10 others. The victim, a man in his 50’s, has not yet been identified. The other injured workers were treated and released from the hospital. Injuries included concussions, hearing loss, and chest pains, as well as smoke-related injuries.

According to the fire department, the explosion occurred in an area of the facility where parts are tested. The machine was using a chemical called potassium chloride, which can ignite combustible materials if mixed with water or other substances. The fire department is not sure at this time if the potassium chloride contributed to the cause of the explosion, as the incident continues to be under investigation. Fire Chief Glenn Ericksen stated that there had been a violent explosion that caused a lot of twisted metal and devastation. The force of the explosion caused the roof to buckle and also propelled rocks into a nearby parking lot, damaging 20 cars. The explosion was followed by a small fire that the fire department was able to contain fairly easily.

The Arens Controls facility in Arlington Heights does not seem to have a record of previous accidents and employs approximately 150 people. About 50 workers were evacuated following the explosion last week. While the facility is located in a mostly residential area, fire officials stated that the chemicals involved in the explosion posed no danger to the nearby residents or community.

Both the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) reported to the scene. Representatives from the ATF have declared the incident to be just a tragic accident. OSHA is interviewing employees as well as company officials to determine whether the accident was due to mechanical failure or operator error.