McEWEN, Tenn. – Investigators with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives have concluded their inquiry into Wednesday’s deadly plant explosion at Rio Ammunition. The incident has officially been ruled accidental.
The ATF said the explosion occurred in the area of the mezzanine that fed the loading machine. The incident was said to be the result of an industrial accidental explosion.
Friday, investigators had wrapped up their on-sight work and were going to spend the night compiling information to ensure all agencies had drawn the same conclusion.
Another victim of the McEwen ammunition plant explosion was released from the hospital and the final hospitalized victim is said to be improving. Officials with Vanderbilt University Medical Center confirmed that Sheila Edwards had been released and Joey Clark had been upgraded to stable condition.
A third worker, Rodney Edwards, was killed in the Wednesday blast at the Rio Ammunition plant about 55 miles west of Nashville. Another worker was treated and released.
Odell Poyner, director of the Humphreys County Emergency Management Agency, said authorities received reports that about 20 employees were in the building at the time of the explosion, which blew out two of the walls and a large portion of the roof.
"We do have some significant structural damage. We do not want to get.. it's been a tragic incident. We've had a loss of life so we want to make sure an investigator doesn't get injured. It's going to take us a little while to get this scene stabilized, get a engineer in here, get some heavy equipment in here and make sure we don't have some explosive powers that will hurt somebody," said ATF Special Agent Jeff Fulton Wednesday.
Firefighters from both Humphreys and Hickman counties battled the blaze at the plant, located in a rural area right near the line dividing the counties, Poyner said. The fire ignited several brush fires in a nearby forested area.
All had been extinguished by Wednesday night, he said.
A news release from parent company Maxam said Rio Ammunition produces shotgun cartridges, and the blast occurred during the company's cartridge loading operations.
A GoFundMe website has been set up for Rodney Edwards' funeral and memorial expenses. To donate, go to www.gofundme.com/8emsxc.
(The Associated Press Contributed To This Report.)