What to Know
- The cause of the deadly Nov. 20 fire at Verla International has been ruled accidental
- Officials said Thursday that static electricity ignited a flammable liquid during the manufacturing process
- One male worker died in the blaze; another 125 people went to hospitals seeking treatment
Newly released footage shows the exact moment an explosion rocked a New York cosmetics plant earlier this month, leaving a worker wiping down a tank running away with parts of his shirt on fire as barrels of chemicals go up in flames.
The footage released by Orange County Executive Steven M. Neuhaus shows a worker at the Verla International plant in New Windsor walking up to a set of chemical tanks at about 10:15 a.m. on Nov. 20. As the worker begins to wipe one of the tanks, a bright flash of light obscures everything visible in the frame before revealing flames overtaking the tanks -- and at least part of the worker's clothes as he runs for safety. Officials said he escaped with minor injuries.
On Wednesday, Orange County fire officials said that static electricity generated as that worker wiped the tank of flammable liquid was responsible for the explosion. The blast was ruled accidental. A second explosion followed about 25 minutes later.
One worker was killed and another 125 workers and first responders were hurt in the accident at the plant with a checkered history that includes fines for safety violations earlier this year and a fatal workplace shooting 12 years ago.
The 37-year-old company's website says it manufactures and packages nail polish, cosmetics, personal care, lotions and fragrances. Earlier this year, Verla was cited for nine occupational safety violations, according to records on the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's website. One was related to problems with the handling of flammable and combustible liquids.