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UPDATED: Crews Recover 3 Bodies From Garner Slim Jim Plant

Federal explosives agents will investigate the wreckage of a North Carolina meat processing plant where three workers were killed after a blast ripped holes in the building.

Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agent Earl Woodham says at least two dozen special agents will enter the damaged ConAgra plant in Garner on Thursday to survey the damage.

Woodham said Wednesday night that the scene has to be treated as a criminal investigation. Earlier, he told The Associated Press there is no initial indication to suggest foul play.

The unexplained explosion ripped through the 500,000-square-foot plant while 300 people were at work Tuesday. Officials said 38 employees were injured and three firefighters were treated for inhaling ammonia fumes and released.

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Search crews have recovered three bodies from a Slim Jim snack factory a day after an explosion ripped through the plant.

Police said searchers will continue scouring the building wreckage Wednesday but that only three employees were reported missing after the blast.

Crews brought out two bodies in the afternoon after retrieving the remains of 43-year-old Barbara McLean Spears of Dunn before dawn.

Garner Police Sgt. Chris Clayton named the two other victims as 67-year-old Rachel Mae Poston Pulley and 33-year-old Lewis Junior Watson, both of Clayton.

Officials said at least 38 employees were injured, including four with critical burns, and three firefighters were treated for inhaling ammonia fumes.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


The brother of a woman killed in the North Carolina plant explosion says his sister will be remembered for her love of her family.

Anthony McLean of Ocala, Fla., says his sister, 43-year-old Barbara Spears of Dunn, worked at the Slim Jim factory in Garner for about 15 years. He says she worked in the cutting department most recently.

McLean says he was visiting his family in Dunn on Tuesday so he knew of the explosion at the ConAgra Foods Inc. plant immediately.

Spears was one of two people killed in the explosion, which injured 41. One person is missing.

Spears was the oldest of three siblings and lived in Dunn with her mother. Her brother says she didn't have children but cared for her brothers and nieces as if they were her children.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


Officials now say three people are unaccounted for after an explosion at a Slim Jim meat products plant in Garner.

Wake County Emergency Medical Services says search teams are now inside the plant looking for those employees.

Authorities say 38 people were injured in the fire and explosion, while three firefighters were treated for ammonia exposure.

Five of the injured people were tagged as priority patients with serious conditions.

Several workers reported hearing an explosion before the collapse, and Garner Mayor Ronnie Williams says injuries ranged from burns to smoke inhalation. Emergency crews were keeping people away because of an ammonia leak.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


Officials say twenty people have been injured after a food plant in a Raleigh suburb collapsed following a reported explosion.

Garner's mayor say they are now looking for four people inside the plant that are unaccounted for. Police say they have no word of any fatalities. Sgt. Joe Binns says twenty people have been taken to local hospitals.

Wake County emergency management says there is still a small fire in a corner of the plant and a small ammonia leak in the facility. Once the leak is capped, rescue crews can enter and search for those missing.

The 425,000 square foot plant employs several hundred people producing Slim Jim meat products. Mayor Ronnie Williams says several people reported hearing an explosion before the building partially collapsed.

ConAgra Foods spokeswoman Stephanie Childs says the company is assessing what happened at the plant.


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Part of a building has collapsed near Raleigh, crushing vehicles and injuring at least a dozen workers.

The collapse happened at the ConAgra Foods plant in Garner. A portion of the 50,000 square foot building collapsed. WRAL is reporting an explosion happened before the collapse and at least three portions of the roof have collapsed.

Jones Sausage Road has been shut down, but there is immediate word on any evacuations in the area.

Garner Mayor Ronnie Williams told WRAL that a cloud of toxic ammonia has formed over the plant after pipes containing the chemical broke. Williams says he has been told some employees have chemical burns while 12-15 others have been overcome by the fumes.

ConAgra Foods spokeswoman Stephanie Childs said Tuesday the company is assessing what happened at a plant in Garner. She had no word on injuries but television footage from the site showed medical crews tending to people outside.

Paramedics and emergency crews are on the scene. We'll have an update as soon as information becomes available.

The ConAgra plant makes Slim Jims at the facility in Garner.


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