VICKSBURG, Miss. (May 20, 2002)—A rubber dryer may have flashed and caused a dust explosion that started the May 16 fire at Rouse Polymerics International Inc., Capt. Mark Ettinger of the Vicksburg Fire Dept said. The fire at the rubber-recycling plant killed one worker and seriously injured 10 others.
“That's not nailed down,” Capt. Ettinger said, because there are still “hot spots” burning in the building and the department's engineers haven't been able to go in and search for the cause. The Vicksburg Post newspaper identified the dead worker as Clyde “Teddy” Smith, 40.
Rouse Polymerics President Michael Rouse was on the way to Mr. Smith's funeral the morning of May 20 and could not be reached for comment.
The plant's operations manager told the Post it was too early to determine what would become of the plant after the fire.