Man seriously burned during plant explosion, worries shift to water pollution

GORDON COUNTY, Ga. — An explosion at a Calhoun adhesive plant caused health concerns across that community Friday morning, to the point that school district officials canceled classes for three nearby schools.

The intense smoke from the explosion at the DHM Adhesives plant caused emergency officials to evacuate nearby homes and raised alarms about the air quality around the plant because of the chemicals inside the building.

[PHOTOS: Hazardous chemical fire in Calhoun]

People who live nearby told Channel 2's Tom Jones that the fire was stubborn and got a little too close.

“It was crazy. It was wild. It was loud,” witness Blake Moore said.

The plant is just a few feet from his home and he told Jones the fire made him so nervous he grabbed his dogs and his mother and got out.

Moore said he was startled by a loud noise just before 1 a.m. Friday.


“Sounded like an explosion. I came out and saw the flames,” he said.

The flames sent smoke into the air for hours.

Firefighters from several jurisdictions arrived and helped Calhoun crews battle the stubborn blaze.

“What was so difficult about putting this out?” Jones asked Deputy Chief Terry Mills, with the Calhoun Fire Department.

“Well, just not sure what all was in there. The building was full of product,” Mills said.

One worker was burned in the fire. The fire, smoke and road closures shut down all schools and caused evacuations for nearby neighborhoods.

“When we looked out it was a lot of flames, but we were kind of scared, so we didn't know exactly what was going on,” neighbor Glenda Hapop said.

The fire closed businesses and forced others to open late, like the Hairport salon, where appointments were missed.

“We just called and booked them for later, so they all understood,” worker Donna Baumann said.

There were concerns about the air quality. The EPA arrived and found no problems. The concern now is for the injured worker.

A relative told Jones that the worker was headed to surgery after getting burned in the fire.

“God bless them. I hope they are OK,” Hapop said.

It is still too early to say what started the fire.

The EPA said it will be monitoring the run-off from the 2 million gallons of water used to douse the fire.

The water could contain chemicals from the plant.