3 dead, 2 victims in critical condition in wake of Soulard boiler explosion

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St. Louis, Missouri (KMOV) — Three people are dead and another two critically injured after a boiler explosion rocked the Soulard neighborhood Monday morning.

Around 7:45 a.m. a large industrial boiler exploded at the Loy-Lange Box Company in the 220 block of Russell Boulevard. The equipment, described as a being about the size of a van, shot through the roof of the building and reached a height of between 450 and 500 feet.

A substantial piece of the boiler traveled around 500 feet laterally, eventually crashing through the roof of the administrative offices of the Faultless Healthcare Linen building, located a block away.

The initial explosion killed 59-year-old Kenneth Trentham, an employee of the Loy-Lange Box Company. Another Loy-Lange employee was seriously injured and is listed in critical but stable condition.

Eleven seconds after the initial explosion, a large piece of the boiler tore through the ceiling of the Faultless Healthcare Linen building. It struck two employees filling out first-day paperwork, killing them both.

Another employee in the Faultless building was trapped under the hot boiler which weighs an estimated 1.5 tons. Emergency crews were able to free the victim and admit him to the hospital, where the person was listed in critical, unstable condition.

The City of St. Louis does not inspect commercial boilers. However, any business with a boiler must have a city-licensed engineer on staff whenever the equipment is running. Trentham was the engineer on staff at the time of the explosion. He had been licensed since 1996 and had renewed his license every year.

The boilers were installed in 1966 and 1968. According to company permits, they were manufactured by a company called Clayton. They are made of steel and the permits say all materials comply with code.

The incident has been classified as a commercial accident.

Loy-Lange has paid fines for workplace violations three times since 2014, though officials say none were related to the boiler.

The company paid a $3,741 fine after an August 2016 inspection found holes in floors that prevented proper cleaning.

An inspection in November 2014 found defective equipment, including a forklift without lights and damage to some safety latches. The company paid $6,566.

And in February 2014, the company paid $2,450 for defective energy control procedures, such as not properly training employees to ensure machinery was turned off and powered down.

Officials say the company has since addressed those issues.