Worker Dies in Tank Explosion

Another worker was critically injured.

A pair of employees was cleaning the top of a tank at the W.R. Meadows plant in northern Illinois on Friday when an explosion killed 55-year-old Wuilmer Gavigia and left the other critically injured.

Gavigia died at the scene and the other employee was rushed to a nearby hospital. 

The accident happened around 10:45 a.m. at the building materials factory in Hampshire, Illinois, about 55 miles northwest of Chicago.

According to WSPY, the accident was caused by an electrical event in an explosive vapor environment. The explosion triggered the building's fire suppression system, which was able to stop the fire from spreading. 

The facility suffered significant damage and area residents were evacuated after the explosion shook their homes. In drone footage, you can see the damaged tank as well as an entire wall that came down in the blast. An inspector was on the scene to investigate the structural integrity of the building.

W.R. Meadows makes asphalt and concrete products used in the construction industry. 

According to OSHA, W.R. Meadows was previously cited for a pair of serious violations in 2019 after an employee was hospitalized after falling 10 feet while cleaning the top of a tank. For that incident, OSHA proposed penalties of $52,714, which was lowered to $23,760 as part of a settlement.

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