Governor Jim Doyle toured the wreckage of the Falk Corporation factory in Milwaukee Thursday afternoon, and marveled at the destructive force of the blast that leveled a warehouse and killed three people. After viewing the site of the explosion by helicopter, Doyle promised the state will help factory owners and workers in whatever ways it can. The Governor also commended emergency workers for their rapid response to the disaster. The first crew was on the scene within minutes after feeling the blast and spotting the smoke.
Officials believe the explosion was caused when a propane leak was ignited, causing a warehouse to almost instantly catch fire. Workers had discovered the leak several minutes before the explosion and were in the process of evacuating. Milwaukee Police Chief Nan Hegerty says investigators are still trying to determine the "flash point" where the gas was ignited. The factory was reportedly testing out a propane back-up system around the time of the explosion, but officials will not comment on what role that may have played in the accident.
Meanwhile, the parent company of the Falk Corporation is pledging to rebuild the facility, which makes large gears for industrial use. Rexnord Corporation CEO Bob Hitt is asking employees to stay patient while the company tries to determine how long that will take. However, Hitt says they'll have to wait until authorities wrap up their investigation before the company can assess what work will be needed to get the factory up and running again. During a press conference at Miller Park on Thursday, Hitt also talked about the lives lost in the explosion. He says the three workers killed will be missed.