2 injured in explosion at Steeleville, Ill. pasta plant

STEELEVILLE, IL (KFVS) - Two people were injured after an explosion at a food manufacturing plant Thursday afternoon in Randolph County.

According to a company spokesperson, the explosion at the pasta plant happened between 1-1:30 p.m. at the Steeleville Gilster-Mary Lee plant.

Two workers suffered burn injuries and were taken to St. John's Hospital in St. Louis.

The spokesperson believes the explosion was related to maintenance work being done on some equipment.

A few people in Steeleville say the flour and sugar dust from the food products can be extremely flammable, and wonder if that also played a part in the explosion.

That part of the plant has been momentarily shut down, but is expected to open back up.

People in the area say the plants means a lot to the community since so many people from the area work there.

They each told Heartland News what the afternoon was like for them.

"I was walking down the street, I heard something, wasn't for sure what it was," said Steeleville resident Tammy Salger. "And then all of a sudden the fire whistle went off and I [saw] cops and ambulances and fire trucks by the zillions."

"It sounded like a big boom," said Kelsey Cowan.

"Saw like where a wall kind of blew out," said firefighter Steven Smith.

"We had a lot of people that were curious about what was going on, driving by," said Tim Hecht.

"All the people were out in the parking lot," said Smith.

"I went over to my neighbor's house and saw all the employees evacuated, and I didn't see any smoke or anything like that," said Hecht.

"I couldn't really tell what it was, I heard something, maybe like a boom," said Salger.

One plant in town manufactures pasta and the other, various food products.

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