Chicago Fire and Explosion Lawyer
A fire or explosion could cause catastrophic injuries or fatality, primarily when businesses handle flammable materials. In addition to causing injuries, a fire or explosion can damage expensive machinery and equipment and destroy the building.
Were you severely injured in a fire or explosion, or did you lose a loved one through a wrongful death caused by another's negligent actions? The personal injury attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC can ensure that your family receives the financial compensation you deserve.
Contact our Chicago fire attorneys today at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone call) or through the contact form to schedule a free consultation and to discuss any possible financial recovery and to ensure justice is served. All information you share with our law office remains confidential through an attorney-client relationship.
Dying by explosion or fire is one of the most horrific ways to lose a life in an accident. The heat and flames can cause excruciating pain and asphyxiation. Surviving a blazing inferno often produces lifelong pain, disfigurement, scarring, and permanent disability.
The Risk of an Explosion Accident
Any occupation requiring proximity to flammable materials like welding, metalwork, or explosives creates a high-risk factor for everyone, especially employees. Unfortunately, many industrial jobs in the maritime and construction industries require workers to be around common hazardous threats.
An accident, equipment spark, lightning strike, or arson can ignite an industrial fire explosion. Any flame could detonate explosive or flammable materials like chemicals, gas tanks, and fertilizer, leading to a fiery blast.
Even a minor explosion could produce fires that lead to a severe injury, including internal bleeding, third-degree burns, and traumatic brain damage caused by the percussive force.
Many victims suffer lifelong breathing problems or die. Survivors are often faced with the emotional toll and long-term financial burden caused by the fire's aftermath.
Vehicle fires often start by malfunctioning equipment, lack of maintenance, electrical overload, or a short in the wire that causes a spark, igniting flammable material. Research shows vehicle fires generate intense heat of up to 1500°F that can radiate from the burning vehicle more than 10 feet.
According to the US Fire Administration under FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency), a vehicle fire can produce harmful toxic gas caused by burning synthetic materials, releasing lethal concentrations of carbon monoxide, a colorless, odorless, tasteless gas.
The National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) statistics reveal that:
- Vehicle fires cause about 10% of all fire fatalities
- Approximately 14% of all fires involved burning vehicles
- About 700 people are killed every year in vehicle fires, and over 1250 are injured on average
- Vehicle fires cause approximately 4% of all fire-associated firefighter injuries
Many vehicle parts can burst into flames due to excessive heat, shooting fiery debris many feet away from the burning wreckage. An explosion could release chemicals, toxins, and shrapnel from the magnesium wheels, two-piece tire rims, hatchback door struts, bumpers, grease seals, engine parts, axles, and driveshafts.
Though a rare occurrence, a motor vehicle gas tank can rupture, spilling flammable fuel that could become catastrophic for any occupant if ignited. Firefighters must wear full protective fire-resistant clothing and have fire-resistant equipment when battling vehicle fires.
Extinguishing a vehicle fire typically requires specifically designed extinguishing agents and large amounts of water.
Fires in the Home
A small fire in the home can grow to a horrific size where family members have two minutes or less to escape high-intensity flames. According to the national codes, all households must be equipped with smoke detectors that play a crucial role in reducing fire-related injuries and deaths every year.
Some households have installed sprinklers in the ceilings that are automatically tripped when the fire reaches 700°, Spraying water in the area on fire to minimize damage and save lives.
The National Fire Protection Agency recommends installing carbon monoxide detectors that will alarm the household or fumes from an attached garage releasing carbon monoxide into the air. Carbon monoxide is recognized as the invisible killer because it has no color, taste, or older.
Using portable fire extinguishers is known to save lives and resident/business property. The extinguisher can quickly snuff out a small fire or at least contain the flames until firefighters arrive.
An Employer's Workplace Protection Responsibility
According to OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration), every employer must provide employees a safe environment, even those working with flammable or explosive materials. The employer must provide adequate training, safety equipment, and protective gear for every employee working in dangerous conditions.
The employee must learn how to avoid a catastrophic fire and explosion in the workplace by understanding how any potential spark could cause a flame leading to a catastrophe.
Potential spark could be generated by:
- Aluminum - Aluminum equipment, gangways, scaffolding, and ladders could leave a flammable residue when the equipment's drag across a metal or steel surface, igniting the material.
- Light rusty metals - Equipment may relate metals are often coated with rust (iron oxide) that can easily cause a spark when the rusty metal is rubbed against steel.
- Shoes and clothing - Wearing the wrong clothing at work could create an electrostatic discharge, leading to a spark that ignites a fire. Employers should ensure that their workers only wear anti-electrostatic shoes and clothing.
- Moving objects - Ladders, objects, and other equipment made of a flammable material could easily ignite a spark when lighting the object across a steel surface.
Causes of Industrial Fires and Explosions
Catastrophic accidents in the workplace can cause severe personal injury where recovery takes years to heal completely when the victim has extensive burns, scarring, or disfigurement.
Every company must ensure their employees understand how to reduce the risk of fire and explosions and avoid a blast injury that could include traumatic brain damage, spinal cord injury, burn injury, or an injury causing cuts or lacerations from flying shrapnel from preventable causes including:
- Electrical hazards - Any overloaded circuit & outlet or exposed extension cord & wiring could create an electrical hazard when a source of ignition for an explosion or fire occurs. An electrical explosion accident could result from improper handling by workers failing to switch equipment often when not used, grounding equipment during installation, and effectively managing circuits and electrical equipment when anti-static procedures are required.
- According to OSHA, an electrical explosion accident could result in second and third-degree burns. In 2019, there were reported 500 workplace-related electrical hazard accidents and 300 fatalities.
- Flammable liquids and gases - Any ignited combustible liquid or flammable gas can quickly burn, resulting in severe injuries, fatality, and property damage. A flowing liquid lid on fire can spill into other combustible materials, including workplace fabrics, wood, and paper.
- Gas explosions can cause severe health issues, including difficulty breathing, burnt lung tissue, nausea, drowsiness, and more. According to OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration), 454 worker fatalities and 3910 severe injuries were reported in 2017 caused by combustible or flammable liquid fires.
- Combustible Dust - Working around combustible dust condensers to be the primary or contributing factor of industrial plant fires and often serve as the source of ignition for a catastrophic explosion. Combustible dust is an airborne problem that could lead to a secondary explosion creating catastrophic problems when forming dust clouds.
OSHA sets the standard for employers to prevent combustible dust accidents by ensuring that dust never accumulates to hazardous levels. Employers must ensure that their workers follow Occupational Safety and Health Administration safety protocols to avoid a catastrophic combustible dust fire explosion.
Blast Explosion Injury
According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), many military service members and others are often at risk of a terrorist attack. Clinicians taking care of bomb blast patients must have a comprehensive understanding of the pathophysiology involving the unique injuries of a bomb explosion.
- Nearly all fatalities associated with the terrorist attack explosion are caused by blast loan
- Blast lung claims the lives of most initial survivors of a bomb explosion that leaves them with a penetrating and blunt trauma
- A devastating explosion or fire could cause fatal burn injuries
- Higher morbidity and mortality rates are associated with an explosion that occurs in confined spaces, including large vehicles, buildings, mines, or structural collapse
- Approximately 50% of initial bomb blast casualties sought medical care within the first hour
An explosion occurring during combat creates unique patterns of injuries that are rarely seen elsewhere, leaving the sufferer with multi-system life typing threatening conditions.
Only a handful of healthcare professionals, outside of the military, have the extensive experience required to handle an explosive-related burn injury.
Preventing Fires and Explosions
All employers must train their employees on industrial fire safety, especially those working in manufacturing plants in industrial warehouses. Many government agencies have improved industrial fire protection standards to ensure employers use the best practices when keeping workers safe.
Many fires and explosions are started by a sparking source that could include combustible dust, hot work, flammable products, malfunctioning equipment, and electrical hazards. These dangers include:
Combustible dust remains the leading contributing factor of fires, blazes and explosions occurring in manufacturing plants and industrial facilities, including chemical plants and food processing plants.
Combustible dust from dirt, paper, metal, or wood could cause fire or explosion hazards that could lead to a fire when combined with oxygen and an ignition source.
The dust can quickly disburse inside an enclosed area, creating a significant potential for catastrophic explosion or a secondary explosion that might be larger and more dangerous.
Many occupations involve hot work, where the employee is torch cutting, welding, brazing, soldering, heating, or burning hazardous materials. Most molten materials reach incredibly high temperatures of over 1000°F, which might lead to an unpredictable spark, igniting material they could burn uncontrollably.
Many industrial fires and explosions are the results of ignited flammable gases and liquids and chemical plants and factories that use crude oil, acrylic acid, and fuel. A dangerous fire and explosion occur when an electrical plug serves as an ignition source to flammable products.
Malfunctioning Equipment and Machinery
Any equipment used for hot work or heating products could cause an industrial fire, especially when the equipment malfunctions. Malfunctioning furnaces cause many preventable fires and explosions in industrial factories and chemical plants.
Any equipment that was not correctly installed or correctly operated and those not adequately maintained pose a severe risk that violates industrial fire safety.
Any malfunctioning equipment or machinery with moving parts could create a spark caused by friction, leading to a fire or explosion, especially when combustible dust is in the air.
Sparks from exposed wiring, heated extension cords, overloaded circuits/outlets, static discharge, and faulty wiring can cause fires and explosions. When the electrical source sparks combustible dust, the outcome can be catastrophic if flammable materials are nearby.
OSHA mandates that all employers conduct routine inspections and maintenance of the facility and equipment to ensure that all machinery works efficiently and correctly. All mechanics and moving parts should be routinely lubricated to avoid friction that leads to a spark causing fires.
Common Fire and Explosion Injuries
An industrial site or construction site fire or explosion can cause devastating injuries where the victim spends years dealing with ongoing pain and suffering.
Many victims must undergo extensive medical treatments, years of rehabilitation, multiple surgeries, and therapy to overcome the temporary and permanent disabilities caused by the heat, flames and toxic gases from burning materials.
Common injuries that are caused by fires and explosions include:
- Lung damage
- Smoke inhalation
- Wrongful death
In addition to the physical pain, disfigurement, and the need for additional surgeries, the victims often live years with emotional distress and financial loss from losing a job because of their disabilities.
Insurance Companies: the Cost of Industrial Fires and Explosions
Billions of dollars or spent every year covering the cost of industrial fires and explosions. In 2017, OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) documented about 37,000 fires in manufacturing and industrial properties that led to 279 injuries and 18 fatalities.
The direct cost of injuries, fatalities, and property death totaled more than $1 billion in accidents involving electrical hazards, flammable gases and liquids, and combustible dust. In 2017, insurance companies paid out more than $1.5 million in direct property damage settlements involving nearly 4000 injuries and over 450 deaths.
Recent Industrial Fires and Explosions
The aftereffects of a fire or explosion accident are often devastating to the workers that lead to severe injuries and loss of life. Many of the recent fires and explosions in numerous industries involved exploding gases, flammable solids, liquids, and dust. Some of these include:
Chicago, Illinois May 2019 - A massive explosion at an Illinois silicone implant claimed the lives of two people, and two other colleagues were missing following a manufacturing plant explosion. Firefighters had to stop searching for two missing workers because of structural damage at the silicone plant that produces raw silicone ingredients. The intensity of the explosion rattled buildings for miles before engulfing the structure and flames.
Madison, Illinois, May 2020 - A Madison factory fire released thick dark smoke into the air as 35 different fire departments from the area responded to Magnesium Elektron, worrying that the fire could cause an explosion. The fire was concerned that highly deadly magnesium fumes were being released into the air before determining the trash and oil had caught fire. The company manufactures magnesium alloys used in photoengraving plates, electronics, vehicles, and batteries.
McHenry, Illinois, July 2020 - Processing equipment at the Avient Corporation Elastomers production plant was ablaze in July 2020 McHenry Township Fire Protection District when first responders arrived at just after 8:00 PM, finding heavy smoke. Fortunately, the factory was equipped with a sprinkler system that suppressed the fire until the fire department could extinguish the blaze.
Chicago, Illinois, May 2020 - The city shut down a shredding plant on Chicago's north side in Lincoln Park after two separate explosions occurred at the industrial scrapyard. The city conducted a business operations review to ensure that the employer was following appropriate safety measures to prevent any explosions from occurring in the future. There were no burn injuries reported and no apparent health risks to the surrounding community
Fire Explosion FAQs
Our Chicago fire accident law firm is aware that many families have unanswered questions about safety in the workplace and what to do when a catastrophic fiery explosion occurs. A personal injury attorney has answered some of those questions below.
For more information, contact our law offices today at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone number) to speak with our Chicago personal injury legal team through free consultations.
What is the difference between a fire and an explosion?
Fire produces lighting heat by rapidly consuming oxygen when burning a flammable material like wood, dust, metal, or chemicals. An explosion occurs from rapidly expanding energy that blows away from the source, often producing a shockwave.
Explosion disasters can cause a severe life-changing burn injury
What causes an explosion during a fire?
Typically, a spark from hot work (welding, soldering, etc.) can ignite a flammable item when contacting explosive material. The chain reaction can produce a shockwave blast that could result in blunt trauma to any victim nearby.
What are fire and explosion hazards?
Any dangerous substance present or used at work could cause severe harm if not properly controlled, leading to a fiery explosion. Many explosive atmospheres produce catastrophic explosions, including combustible dust and flammable vapors, mists, or gases.
Nearly every workplace explosion is preventable when employers adopt safety procedures and behaviors. The aftereffects of any fire or explosion in the workplace could cause catastrophic injuries, loss of life, significant property damage, and harm to the environment and business community.
What are the 4 types of fire?
Class A - Involves textiles, paper, wood, or other flammable solid materials
Class B - Involves oils, diesel, gasoline, and other flammable liquids
Class C - Involves flammable gases
Class D - Involves flammable metals that burn at extremely high heat
Class E - Involves involves an electrical apparatus
Hire a Chicago Explosion Lawyer to Handle Your Compensation Case
Were you severely burned in an industrial or car fire, or did you lose a loved one through a wrongful death caused by another's negligence?
The Chicago personal injury attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC can serve as your legal advocates to ensure your justice is served and you receive the financial recovery you deserve for your damages.
Our legal team understands that not all families have sufficient funds to hire an attorney. Because of that, our law firm accepts all cases on a contingency fee basis, meaning that no upfront fees are paid until after we successfully resolve your case through a jury trial award or negotiated settlement.
Contact our law firm today at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone number) or through the contact form to schedule a free consultation. Let us begin working on your compensation claim today.
Our Chicago law offices currently follow CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) Covid-19 (coronavirus pandemic) social distancing guidelines to protect our client's health. Our personal injury lawyers provide legal services in different practice areas throughout Chicagoland including Cook County, DuPage County, Lake County, and Will County.