Metals plant explodes in Manchester

Seven people were injured in a plant explosion at G&S Metals at the Manchester, Ga., Industrial Park early Thursday.

Three people were airlifted to the burn center at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta with severe burns, three were taken by ambulance to hospitals in Warm Springs and LaGrange and one person was self-transported to the Warm Springs hospital.

Grady spokeswoman Denise Simpson said one patient from the explosion was in critical condition and two were in serious condition. The cause of the blast is under investigation by the state fire marshal's office and the Georgia Emergency Management Agency was in Manchester to survey the damage.

An employee at an car dealership up Georgia 85 from the plant described a window-rattling explosion and seeing a "mushroom-like" cloud ascending from the building. The Manchester police and fire officials said the first call from the explosion came in a little after 8:30 a.m. EST Thursday morning.

G&S melts down aluminum materials in the 50,000 square-foot building for use in the automotive industry. The melted aluminum is formed into large blocks and then trucked back to automobile manufacturers where it is used to manufacture aluminum wheels and other aluminum parts.

The plant has only been operational since January and employes 21 people who work its night and day shifts. The damage to the manufacturing portion of the aluminum building was extensive.

The plant’s parent company, G&S Metal Consultants is a privately held company with its only facilities in Wabash, Ind., and Manchester. Ken Rauch, human resources manager at the plant’s parent company, said Thursday morning that he and other executives were about to get on a plane to get to the plant.