At least 13 people have been injured, and one has died, after an explosion rocked the I. Schumann & Co. foundry in Oakwood on Monday afternoon, according to Beacon Journal news partner News 5 Cleveland.
The blast and three-alarm blaze drew a massive fire and emergency medical response to the alloy company, with smoke visible as far south as Stow and Cuyahoga Falls and as far north as downtown Cleveland.
A 46-year-old man was killed in the explosion, according to News 5 Cleveland, which cited the Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner’s Office.
The explosion on Alexander Road just west of Interstate 271, was reported at around 2 p.m. Several fire department units were still on the scene of the explosion as of 6 p.m.
Oakwood Fire Department Capt. Brian Dirocco told News 5 Cleveland the fire was under control Monday evening.
“The bulk of the fire is out, and responding firefighters are just working on a couple of hot spots,” Dirocco said.
He told News 5 Cleveland there were multiple injuries, but all staff in the foundry were accounted for. The captain said the business was a safe place and not the site of a lot of calls, but as a foundry, it does work with molten metals.
Matt Barkett, chief client officer for I. Schumann & Co., released a statement Monday evening saying the origin of the explosion is as of yet unknown. He confirmed employees were injured and that the facility sustained significant damage.
“Our efforts now are focused on supporting the first responders who came on scene quickly to help our employees,” Barkett said. “The safety and health of our employees is our top priority and we commit to ensuring they receive the medical care they need.”
Lt. Marcus Ketner of the Twinsburg Fire Department said the department sent mutual aid EMS units and transferred people to a local hospital.
Jeff Huhn, who works inside sales at Mid-State Sales across the street, heard the explosion.
“We were just loading up a truck, getting ready to leave, and it was the loudest noise we ever heard,” Huhn said. “Everything was shaking, things were falling off the shelves here. We looked out, and saw a huge plume of smoke. About 40 feet down from the entrance, it blew up half the building. It blew debris and shrapnel, there were cars on fire. We just saw pandemonium after the explosion.”
There was no damage reported to the Mid-State Sales building, Huhn added.
But News 5 Cleveland reported the explosion was so powerful, bricks from the building were thrown across the parking lot. The brick wall of the building was completely blown away. Bricks hit nearby businesses and cars, totaling some vehicles.
According to the Macedonia Police Department, North Freeway at Ledge Road, which was closed shortly after the explosion, was reopened at around 7:30 p.m.
Alexander Road also was closed.
Smoke was visible from Stow and Cuyahoga Falls and was still somewhat visible after 4 p.m. with occasional bursts of black smoke.
Joe Sarconi had been eating lunch nearby when the building exploded, he told News 5 Cleveland.
“Ridiculous,” Sarconi said. “I don’t know how nothing hit me.” He added that he found some shrapnel on his vehicle hood.
At least one medical helicopter was called to the scene.
Barkett said I. Schumann & Co. will work with investigators, adding that the company has been operating in Northeast Ohio for more than 100 years.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with our team members and their families at this difficult time,” Barkett said.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.
Reporter April Helms can be reached at [email protected]