Officials: Safety violations led to fatal mechanic shop fire


KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee officials believe a trucking company engaged in serious safety violations prior to an explosion that killed a maintenance shop employee last year in Knox County.

Mechanic Joseph Mack, 43, died from severe burns hours after an explosion inside an R & L Carriers maintenance shop in October 2016, the Knoxville News Sentinel reported (http://bit.ly/2nD8txd).

Before he died in a hospital, Mack told investigators he was investigating a hissing sound when a 55-gallon drum of diesel anti-gel exploded, sending him running from the building while he was still on fire. Two co-workers helped him beat the flames down, but the injuries were too severe.

Months later, fire investigators remain unsure what caused a leaking flammable liquid to explode. Investigators with the Tennessee Occupational Safety and Health Administration last month said R & L Carriers committed five serious safety violations prior to the fire and called on the company to pay $25,600.

Following a Feb. 27 meeting between the two parties, TOSHA agreed to reduce the number of citations to three. The company is slated to pay $16,200 in penalties by April 1, TOSHA administrator Steve Hawkins said.

R & L Carriers is a global transportation firm based in Wilmington, Ohio. The company didn’t return requests for comment.

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Information from: Knoxville News Sentinel, http://www.knoxnews.com