State News

Blood drive set for NC town of Slim Jim explosion

Posted June 19, 2009
Updated June 20, 2009

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— A community blood drive will be held Friday afternoon in Garner, where an explosion at a Slim Jim processing plant killed three people and injured dozens last Tuesday.

The American Red Cross' Triangle chapter is working with ConAgra Foods to host the blood drive from 3 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at St. Mary Mother of the Church, 1008 Vandora Springs Road. Organizers said that all blood types are needed.

The plant explosion blew out a wall and punched holes in the roof, damaging about a quarter of the 425,000-square-foot building. Barbara McLean Spears, 43, of Dunn; Rachel Mae Poston-Pulley, 67, of Clayton; and Louis Junior Watson, 33, of Clayton, died.

Three workers burned in the blast were in critical condition in the North Carolina Jaycee Burn Center at UNC Hospitals in Chapel Hill as of June 20. A fourth worker was in serious condition and a fifth was in fair condition at the burn center.

The U.S. Chemical Safety Board determined that a natural gas purged from a line to a new water heater likely caused the explosion in a packaging area. The spark for the explosion hasn't been determined, and CSB officials said it might never be found due to the extensive damage.

Two ConAgra workers filed suit Monday against Southern Industrial Constructors Inc., a Raleigh mechanical contractor, blaming its crew for the blast. The company, though, maintains that its crew was not responsible for the explosion and wasn't near the blast site.


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