1 Dead, 7 Hurt in Arlington Heights Factory Accident

Crews responded to Arens around 9 a.m. for a possible explosion

By Natalie Martinez
|  Tuesday, May 22, 2012  |  Updated 7:19 PM CDT
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An explosion inside an Arlington Heights factory killed one employee and made several others sick. Natalie Martinez reports.

An explosion inside an Arlington Heights factory killed one employee and made several others sick. Natalie Martinez reports.

One person was killed and seven others were injured, officials said, in an explosion in a factory in northwest suburban Arlington Heights.

Neil Nicholson, of Itasca, was killed as he worked at the Arens plant, in the 3600 block of North Kennicott Avenue. Authorities were called to the facility at around 9 a.m. for a possible chemical explosion.

"There was a lot of destruction and devastation in there from the equipment that exploded," police Capt. Ken Galisnki said of the incident at Arens, in the 3600 block of North Kennicott Avenue.

The company manufactures and tests electrical components, Arlington Heights Fire Chief Glenn Erickson said. The explosion happened in a testing area. Workers were using a corrosive liquid at the time, but it's not known whether it caused the explosion.

"The chemical they were using was a diluted form of potassium hydroxide," said Erickson. "At this point in time we don't know what role the chemical had in the accident, if it had any role at all."

Seven workers were injured and three police officers, two from Arlington Heights and one from Buffalo Grove departments, were treated for respiratory problems. The deceased worker's name and age has not yet been publicly released.

About 50 employees were evacuated and remained outside more than three hours after the incident as firefighters and police continued to investigate.

The facility was turned over to officials from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Authorities were seen wearing masks, ventilators and hazmat suits.

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