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Safety Concerns Delay Investigation Of McCook Factory Explosion

MCCOOK, Ill. (CBS) -- Safety concerns are delaying investigators from determining what caused an explosion last night at a McCook factory.

The blast touched off a fire and forced the temporary evacuation of nearby homes.

In McCook, work crews began the job of shoring up a fire-damaged factory after an explosion last night tore through a metals grinding plant, reports CBS 2's Derrick Blakley.

"The heavy fire that was in there, the ceiling collapsed, the steel twisted and that, and it's just not safe for anybody to go in there," McCook Fire Chief Joseph Myrick.

And he means anybody, including ATF agents and other fire investigators trying to determine what touched off the explosion.

"We were on break sitting down and we just hear a boom. Then we go check and smoke's coming our way, so we just leave out the building," said Ahmed Abdulla, an employee.

Five workers were in the plant when the blast rang out around 8 p.m. Friday. None were hurt but the fire was intense, the smoke a deterrent for firefighters who couldn't even see inside.

"During their process they deal with oil, so there are petroleum products in there. Upon arrival of the fire department, the heavy black smoke was pouring out of the building," said McCook Police Chief Frank Wolf.

Too dangerous for fire fighters to enter the building last night. Too dangerous for investigators probing the fire's origin to enter today.
And it's likely workers here are going to get a few unexpected days off.

"There ain't gonna be anybody working there probably for the next couple of days," said Chief Myrick.

The owner of Advanced Grinding Services says the business is more than 20 years old.

Fire officials estimate 12 to 15 employees work at the factory.

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