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Explosion at ConAgra Plant in Garner, NC

Jeremy Sprinkle
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(Picture) Scene after ConAgra plant explosion in Garner, NC3 workers die, 38 others hospitalized

An explosion in the ConAgra Foods plant in Garner, NC killed three workers and sent 38 others to the hospital on Tuesday. The cause of the blast is not yet known. Federal agents are to begin an investigation today.

The blast was powerful enough to knock down one of the plant walls. The roof collapse that followed trapped some workers under rubble, while fire and fumes from busted ammonia lines burned and sickened others. About 300 people were in the plant at the time of the incident.

The names of those who died are Barbara McLean Spears (43) of Dunn and Rachel Mae Poston Pulley (67) and Lewis Junior Watson (33), both of Clayton.

WRAL-TV in Raleigh reports that a public candlelight vigil to remember the victims is planned for 8 p.m. Friday at Wake Baptist Grove Church, at 302 E Main St. in Garner.

ConAgra has not yet said if the plant, which makes Slim Jims, will be rebuilt or reopen. The company has told employees it will pay full salaries this week and next, but layoffs are possible after that.

Union launches disaster relief fund, plans fundraiser on 6/27

Workers at the ConAgra plant are represented by Local 204 of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union. The union has created a disaster relief fund to aid victims of the workplace disaster. Donations can be made out to:

UFCW Local 204 ConAgra Disaster Relief Fund
PO Box 466
Clemmons, NC 27012

In addition to the disaster relief fund, the union has set Saturday, June 27th as the date of a BBQ fundraiser, to be held in Raleigh.

We will keep you posted with new information as we receive it. In the meantime, please keep the workers and their families in your hearts and minds.