Exact cause of deadly chemical explosion still unknown

Published: Aug. 20, 2015 at 10:05 PM EDT
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Andrew Rogers
Andrew Rogers
Major Doyle Welch
Major Doyle Welch
Bainbridge Public Safety officers thanked surrounding counties for offering assistance during...
Bainbridge Public Safety officers thanked surrounding counties for offering assistance during the explosion.

BAINBRIDGE, GA (WALB) - Folks in a Bainbridge neighborhood are relieved to be back in their homes Thursday after a deadly chemical explosion forced them to evacuate.

But, authorities said the investigation into what caused the explosion continues.

Andrew Rogers said when he got home from work Wednesday,  he had just minutes to pack up everything he needed.

"The authorities told us we could come down, grab a few things, then we had to leave," said Rogers.

Dangerous conditions threatened nearly 20 families who live near Liquid Transfer Terminals, after a one million gallon tank of sodium hydrosulfide exploded.

"There was a worker on top of the tank working yesterday when the explosion happened," said Major Doyle Welch with Bainbridge Public Safety.

Officers confirmed Thursday morning that 35-year-old Christopher Coker, assistant manager at LTT, was killed in that explosion.

Co-workers said they're heartbroken.

"My heart went out to him and his family," said Rogers. "And I hope God blesses them and takes care of them.  I know He will, but I still have to give that good word to him."

Rogers said he's grateful for the Salvation Army providing shelter and meals for the displaced families."Thank you Jesus," said Rogers. "There's someone else on my side besides him.  Thank you.  That's what I was thinking about."

And Major Welch thanks volunteers and surrounding counties for supplying extra resources, such as foam concentrate, needed to battle the relentless flames.

"The businesses around town brought water to us and Gatorades to the people. People brought food out to us," said Major Welch.

While the EPA said the air quality is safe for residents, CSX has hired a crew to continue monitoring the air quality to make sure the air is fine for engineers and trains to pass through safely.

Crews are also working to transfer the remaining chemicals out of the tank, which will take more than a week to complete.

"There's a small smell of the odor.  Like rotten eggs in the area, right now.  But now we've allowed them, this morning around 9:30, to start off loading it onto trucks.  They're going to take it to a facility in St. Marks," said Major Welch.

Major Welch said OSHA is in town investigating.

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