An explosion, accompanied by clouds of black soot and flames as high as 20 feet tore through a plant in Redford, Va., leaving one worker dead, two trapped and seven injured.
"There's a lot of twisted metal everywhere you look," said Fire Chief Lee Simpkins said Sunday following the blast at New River Casting, an automobile parts manufacturing plant.
The cause of the explosion was under investigation, however, initial reports indicate that a natural gas buildup may have been the cause.
Approximately 100 workers were in the plant at the time of the blast, according to Simpkins.
Emergency radio traffic indicated that rescue crews reached several workers trapped inside the foundry's main building.
Workers were treated for smoke inhalation and minor cuts and bruises at an ambulance station near the plant.
A worker who asked not to be named told The Roanoke Times that the explosion blew out the plant's floor.
Firefighters and maintenance workers found the dead worker near the core of the explosion, said Simpkins. Dogs were brought in to search the rubble for missing employees.
Firefighters worked overnight to put out one remaining hot spot being fueled by residue dripping from a tank near the location of the explosion.
The bodies of two female workers, located in this area, are still trapped under so much debris that it may take days to recover them.
New River Castings and a related parts manufacturer, Lynchburg Foundry, are owned by Tory, Mich.-based Intermet Corp., which employs approximately 1,000 people in Radford.
In recent months, the plants have come under scrutiny from state environmental officials for releasing black dust into nearby neighborhoods, according to The Roanoke Times.
The town is about 30 miles west of Roanoke, Va.