Federal officials are trying to determine what came first in Monday's deadly industrial accident at International Nutrition: the plant's collapse that trapped some workers or the fire that burned some?
Inspectors with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration continue today to interview witnesses to the accident that killed workers David Ball, 47, and Keith Everett, 53, and sent 10 others to the hospital. Three workers remained in Omaha and Lincoln hospitals Thursday morning.
Inspectors are trying to establish a timeline of events to determine if the collapse ignited the fire, if a dust explosion caused the collapse, or if other factors were at play, said OSHA spokesman Rhonda Burke.
“They'll look at, was it structural? Was it a grain dust explosion?” Burke said. “Those are all questions the investigators on all levels are asking: What came first? Was the building not structurally sound, was that why it collapsed?”
No determination has been made. Any information on the cause likely won't be released until OSHA completes its investigation, a process that could take up to six months.
OSHA investigators could remain on the scene near 76th and I Streets for several more weeks, Burke said.
The plant is closed because of the severe damage, but the company has said it will continue to pay workers while they are off the job. Through a spokesman the company said it has not yet made decisions about what will happen to the plant structure or to its production operation.