Hampshire blast: 1 killed, 1 injured in incident at building products manufacturer WR Meadows along Industrial Drive

HAMPSHIRE, Ill. (WLS) – One person was killed and another seriously injured in a chemical explosion Friday morning at a building products manufacturer in Hampshire, a village in Kane County, according to Hampshire Fire District Fire Chief Trevor Hermann.

The incident happened around 11 a.m. at WR MEADOWS, INC. along Industrial Drive, Hampshire Village Manager Jay Hedges said.

Metal debris, mutilated on the ground as authorities surveyed the scene.

The blast was so loud it was heard by neighbors nearly a mile away.

“The whole foundation of the house just shook,” said Ed Martin, who lives in Hampshire. “I thought it was someone’s house. We looked around. That’s what your natural reaction would be. And I said to my son before he left for work, ‘I’ hope something hasn’t happened here in the industrial park.’ “

Authorities said workers were cleaning out a tank when a chemical explosion occurred. The company manufactures asphalt and concrete building materials.

The worker who was killed has been identified as Wuilmer Gavigia, 55.

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“It’s extremely sad,” Martin said. “I have lived here for 19 years and nothing like this has ever happened.”

This is not the first time that authorities have been brought to this factory. ABC7 has learned that the company has been cited by OSHA at least twice in the past five years.

According to documents, in 2017, an employee was cleaning a Teflon slip roller when he was pulled into the machine, fracturing his arm and sustaining third-degree burns.

In 2019, another employee was cleaning the top of a tank and fell about 10 feet, injuring his head.

Now another investigation is underway, as neighbors offer support to those reeling from the blast.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with you. It’s very, very sad,” Martin said.

An autopsy will be performed on Gavigia’s body on Monday. The cause of the explosion is under investigation.

Hampshire is located approximately 50 miles west of Chicago in Kane County.

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