Following a deadly plant explosion in Middletown Sunday …
Following a deadly plant explosion in Middletown Sunday …
One of the workers killed in the Middletown plant explosion was…
Middletown Mayor Sebastian Giuliano and the Deputy Fire Chief …
Many towns were shaken by the explosion at the Kleen Energy …
Updated: Monday, 08 Feb 2010, 1:16 AM EST
Published : Sunday, 07 Feb 2010, 12:32 PM EST
Middletown, Conn. (WTNH) - Five people were killed, and at least a dozen injured Sunday in an explosion at the Kleen Energy power plant under construction in Middletown, Connecticut. Authorities continue searching for anyone who may be trapped in rubble.
At an evening news conference, held at Woodrow Wilson Middle School in Middletown, Mayor Sebastian Giuliano confirmed the number of fatalities. He said it was unclear exactly how many people were working at the site Sunday but that they are working to compile an exact number.
Mayor Giuliano said they have to get lists from multiple contractors who are working on the plant.
"We're just trying to get a count of the persons involved," Lt. Governor Michael Fedele said.
One of the confirmed deceased, Ray Dobratz, 58, of Old Saybrook, was a plumber and member of the Plumbers and Pipefitters Union Local 777.
His death hits especially close to home for News Channel 8 because Ray was the father of long-time Sports Team 8 Producer Erik Dobratz.
The explosion that claimed Ray's life, and four others, happened at the at the River Road-based plant around 11:17 a.m. Here are the latest details from authorities:
Mayor Giuliano said there was "no present or continuing threat" from substances or further explosion from the plant.
And, the exact cause of the explosion is unknown at this time.
What is known is the plant was in the process of doing a "blow down", clearing the natural gas lines, when the explosion occurred. Testing had been going on at the plant all weekend, the mayor said.
The Kleen Energy plant was 95% complete and was due to be finished in the summer.
After the explosion happened, medical personnel from various towns took over Main Street Middletown to help in recovery efforts. Two LifeStar helicopers could be heard, and seen, responding to the site. And, State police deployed detectives and cadaver dogs to the scene to help Middletown authorities.
"It's horrible," said Union member Paul Zenzi. "We've got some people up there, they got little kids at home. We lost them.".
"We're sending any and all resources in the event they may be needed," said Lt. J. Paul Vance of the Connecticut State Police.
In the meantime, ambulances could be seen racing through the streets to go to Middlesex Hospital, and back to the site, to assist in search and rescue.
"Several of the [victims], by report, were thrown 30-40 feet," said Dr. John Bankoff of Middlesex Hospital. "And, so the injuries that come with a fall and throw of that extent turn out to be mostly abdominal, chest wall and extremity injuries; broken bones the majority."
The explosion rattled neighbor's homes and emotions.
Bernadette Nyland was outside in her yard with her dogs when she heard the blast.
"They were doing the firing of the engines this morning and so something went wrong and it blew up and flames came shooting up almost as tall as that stack," she said.
Susan Matterazzo has a relative who was supposed to go to the plant today. "He's extremely upset" about what happened, she said. "He's watching it on the news just like we are and I'm just glad he is ok."
The explosion was felt in multiple towns across Connecticut, including Wallingford, North Haven, North Branford and Cheshire.
News Channel 8's Darren Kramer said on Twitter that he was outside in North Guilford when he heard the explosion; "Sound was huge and low. Lasted several seconds. Assumed sonic boom."
Another Twitter follower named Jennifer said via Twitter, "First thought was earthquake or huge gust of wind; whole house shook, very brief but powerful."
Shelby wrote on Twitter, "My whole town was writing on facebook asking if it was a earthquake, Northford."
Mayor Giuliano said he felt the explosion while coming out of church. "Felt almost like a sonic boom," he said.
Others heard or felt the explosion in Oxford and as far away as Mystic.
In the rush to offer assistance however it may be needed, Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton said via Twitter "Our HazMat and Decon trailer are on standby for Middletown."
And, Bridgeport Hospital, which has a burn center, also said it would be on standby. However, a spokesman said they have not yet been alerted that any patient is heading their way.
Governor Jodi Rell visited the scene a few hours after the explosion.
In a statement, released from her office, the Governor has activated the Emergency Operations Center in Hartford, which was "being staffed by: the state Department of Emergency Management and Homeland Security (DEMHS), Department
of Public Health (DPH), the National Guard and the State Police.
DPH is providing tents at the scene for "shelter and medical triage."
The Governor also activated the Urban Search and Rescue Team, which was expected to remain on site late into the evening. And, she issued a "no fly zone" over the area as they look for more survivors.
Meanwhile, the Middlesex Chapter Red Cross is doing their part by setting up a toll free, 24-hour hotline for anyone who is concerned about a loved one or who has questions regarding this incident; the number is 860-347-2577.
They also set up a crisis center for victims' families at the City Hall Chambers where people can meet with grief counselors and get updated information.
"If you can imagine the shock, the impact, the loss and some disorientation," said Mark Brinerhoff of Middlesex Red Cross.
Rescue crews will continue to search throughout the night with the help of canines and crews from all over Connecticut for anyone that may be crushed within the rubble.
"We're taking the building apart piece by piece now," said Deputy Fire Marshal Al Santostefano.
The investigation is expected to pick up again at 7 a.m., Monday.