One worker was transported to the burn unit in Iowa City after an equipment failure caused a fire broke about 10:15 p.m. Thursday at Osmundson Manufacturing Co. west of Perry.
The victim’s condition is unknown.
Heather Bruce, owner and chief executive officer of the factory, said the “small incident” involved a failure in a metal press, and the “fluke accident” is under investigation.
“There’s nothing we could have done,” Bruce said. “We’re thinking it might be a malfunction with the way that the press was built.” She said “some bolts basically fell down, caused a crack in a piston and fluid caught on fire.”
Perry Volunteer Fire Department Chief Chris Hinds said it appeared that a “high-pressure hydraulic line burst,” spraying the burn victim and the press with hydraulic fluid.
“Of course, when the fluid hit the hot piece of equipment, it immediately burst into flames, and that’s probably how he got burned,” Hinds said. “There was an exhaust fan mounted in the ceiling directly above the equipment, and that sucked the fire and everything straight up, which is where it went out through the roof, through this exhaust fan, and it caught the two-by-sixes or two-by-whatevers up there that had the exhaust fan mounted to, caught them on fire. They didn’t burn too bad, though. As this mist of hydraulic fluid burnt off of them, they got down to just a smolder on their own.”
Hinds said workers on scene used a fire extinguisher to suppress the flames, and he “put a couple of guys with a hose up there to wet the timbers down that supported the exhaust fan and knock out any little embers or sparks that were still burning around there in the wood.”
Bruce said this was the first serious injury at the factory in 40 years.
“Nothing really caused it,” she said. “It was just the normal, everyday operations, and so we’re having our insurance people come out and look at it and see, okay, what is the cause of this because this should not happen.”
The Perry Police Department, Dallas County Sheriff’s office and Dallas County EMS also responded.
Some 80 workers are employed at the 42,000-square-foot factory, which opened in 1973 and produces tillage tools for agricultural companies around the U.S.