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OAKWOOD VILLAGE, Ohio (WJW) — The cause of a deadly explosion and fire on Feb. 21 at a metal recycler facility in Oakwood Village is still undetermined, the Ohio State Fire Marshal’s Office said Monday.
“Investigators with the Division of State Fire Marshal have interviewed several witnesses and at this time do not believe the explosion was the result of a criminal act,” reads a Monday news release.
The fire is believed to have started in or around a furnace inside the plant. Investigators hope furnace experts can help zero in on the cause.
Village Fire Capt. Brian DiRocco said local firefighters were called to I. Schumann & Co.’s Alexander Road plant just before 2:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 21. There they found “heavy smoke and fire conditions throughout the entire building” along with several injured workers.
Immediately after the explosion, debris could be seen scattered hundreds of yards away, and portions of the building’s face were gone. The fire spread to cars parked outside.
“The interior of the building — it’s pretty catastrophic,” DiRocco told reporters the following Tuesday.
One person was killed: 46-year-old Steven Mullins of North Ridgeville, who worked for the company for nearly 30 years. Thirteen others were treated at a hospital, mostly for burns, fire officials said.
People living in communities miles away could smell the fumes.
Multiple entities continue to collaborate on the investigation, including the Oakwood fire and police departments; the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Cleveland Office; the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio; the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency; Chagrin Valley Dispatch; the Occupational Safety and Health Administration; FirstEnergy; and Dominion Gas.