Explosion in East Chicago cleaning facility injures 3 workers, under investigation

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EAST CHICAGO, Ind. — A blast at an industrial cleaning facility seriously injured three employees and sparked a destructive fire Wednesday morning in Northwest Indiana.

Sometime after 7 a.m. Wednesday, an explosion in the boiler room at T.A.C. East, Inc. triggered a fire that spread from the garage to the company's attached two-story office space. Officials say three workers suffered first, second and third degree burns, but are said to be in stable condition.

Paramedics rushed the badly-burned employees to Methodist North Lake Hospital in Gary before they were quickly transferred to Loyola University medical Center in Maywood, which has a renowned burn center.

A large plume of smoke from the fire could be seen from SkyCam9. The industrial tank-cleaning facility operated by T.A.C. East, Inc. is used to clean out semi tractor-trailer tanks carrying chemicals and petroleum products.

Nearby, resident George Petrunich and many others say the were rocked by a loud blast that rattled windows.

“It was like a quarter stick of dynamite going off ... and there were a series of them,” Petrunich said. “You could actually feel it, you know?”

Inspectors are working to determine what caused the explosion.

“We’re not sure if it was a boiler or if it was products in one of the tanks. Our investigation is currently underway,” said East Chicago Fire Department Chief Anthony Serna.

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