HIGH SPRINGS ‒ The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) sent its National Response Team and joined the investigation into the May 4 explosion that injured at least four people at Air Liquide Advanced Materials in High Springs. At 4:01 a.m. on Thursday, May 4, the High Springs Fire Department was dispatched to Air Liquide, 17526 High Springs Main Street, for a reported explosion. Within minutes, firefighters arrived at the site of an active fire with multiple people injured.
Four Air Liquide employees were injured as a result of the explosion, one of whom was air-lifted by ShandsCair medical helicopter. The other three were transported by ground to area hospitals for evaluation and treatment and have been released. “The employee air-lifted by ShandsCair remains in the hospital as far as we know,” said City of High Springs Public Information Officer Kevin Mangan on Monday, May 8.
Gainesville Fire Rescue’s Regional Hazardous Materials (HazMat) team responded to the scene to evaluate the area of the explosion. After a thorough inspection by the HazMat team, it was determined the incident was contained and infrastructure in the affected building was secured. Alachua County Fire Rescue’s drone team was also requested to aid in the mitigation and investigation efforts.
No injuries to first responders were reported. High Springs Main Street was closed between Northwest 182nd Avenue and Northwest 174th Avenue for approximately nine hours. The cause of the explosion remains under investigation by the Florida State Fire Marshal’s Office and The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), said Mangan.
Air Liquide supplies industrial gases and services to various industries including medical, chemical and electronic manufacturers.
NRT members arrived in Florida on May 6 to assist the Florida Bureau of Fire, Arson, and Explosives Investigations and other local and state partners in this ongoing investigation. The NRT consists of Special Agents, Certified Explosives Specialists, Explosive Enforcement Officers, Certified Fire Investigators, Fire Protection Engineers, Electrical Engineers, Forensic Chemists, an Intelligence Research Specialist, a Medic, and an Accelerant Detection Canine with handler.
“ATF is going to help examine the scene, investigate the leads and follow the facts to how this tragedy may have occurred,” said Special Agent in Charge Kirk Howard. “Extending our unique expertise and capabilities demonstrates the division’s respect for our Central Florida partners and underscores ATF’s commitment to public safety.”
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Cont.: Explosion still under investigation
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