ROCKMART, Ga. -- A small community an hour northwest of Atlanta was rocked by a plant explosion that left one family in mourning, several others hoping for recovery, and a workforce waiting for information.
The explosion happened early Sunday, February 7th during an overnight shift at the JCG Feed Mill. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) was at the plant Monday. They also investigated an explosion at the plant in 2013.
Officials from Osha, The Rockmart Fire Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and firearms were at JCG Feed plant throughout the day, but the first order of business was to make sure the building, mangled in some places, was safe to enter.
"Any time you have an explosion or a blast you worry about the structural stability of the building that absorbed the blast," Fire Chief Todd Queen told 11Alive's Valerie Hoff.
Eight people were inside the structure when the explosion happened. Most of them were young men. Chief Queen said the job can be physically taxing. "Basically, they bring grain products in they grind it into poultry feed they ship it out to poultry plants to feed the chickens," he said.
Newlywed Justin Deems was killed in the explosion. His co-worker 19-year-old Dallas Holcombe suffered burns on his face, arms, and back. He came out of surgery Monday morning "doing better", according to his mother. Holcombe sustained his injuries trying to rescue co-worker Tyler Morgan. Morgan remains in critical condition. Randy Dodd, James Lentz, and a third unidentified man all remain hospitalized.
JCG Foods LLC bought the Rockdale factory out of bankruptcy from Cagle's Inc. for $93 million in 2012. An expansion the following year pushed the number of employees working at the plant to 1,400. Official records show JCG Farms registered in Alabama as a "hatchery and feed mill" business.