“The debris field looked like a 100 yards of block and rebar,” said Lt. Jay Gaiser.
Gaiser said his squad wasn’t needed on scene at the I. Schumann and Company foundry. However, they started fielding calls from residents as soon as they returned to base.
“We started receiving calls around 4:30 about a burning rubber smell,” said Gaiser.
Ohio Department of Transportation video, obtained by FOX 8 via public records request and seen in the player above, shows the moments the explosion occurred around 2:30 p.m. The camera looking south on I-271 shows the magnitude of the smoke plume.
The haze and smell from the fire traveled through nearby communities. Fire departments, as far as Broadview Heights and Seven Hills, all took odor complaint calls from residents related to the explosion.
“We brought our meters to make sure everything was okay and safe and to reassure them,” said Gaiser.
Thirteen people were rushed to area hospitals and one person passed away following the massive explosion.
“I hear a big boom and look over and see the plume of smoke and then the explosion and I ducked and covered for a little while and then I look and all the walls are gone,“ said Joey Sacrconi, who works across the street and was returning from lunch when the explosion happened, but luckily missed him.
Firefighters and first responders from multiple communities raced to the scene but it took hours to control the blaze and rescue those inside.
“We realized there were several injured people inside the building so we established an EMS sector and began triaging patients,” said Capt. Brian DiRocco with Oakwood Village Fire Department. “A lot of burn injuries like the walking wounded coming up to us.”
Incredibly, no one was injured by the flying debris, but multiple vehicles were damaged, some crushed and others caught fire.
Ed Soukup works across the street. His car was damaged but he was more concerned for the workers at the foundry, “You know I’m just praying for these men and women in there it’s just terrible.”
The State Fire Marshal and ATF agents responded and began investigating. The Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner also responded and later posted that one person had passed away.