2 men die from injuries in Redstone Arsenal explosion

Kim Henry briefs media on explosion
Kim Henry briefs media on explosion
Redstone Arsenal gate 3
Redstone Arsenal gate 3
Crews waiting at gate 3 to get on the Arsenal
Crews waiting at gate 3 to get on the Arsenal

HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) - Redstone Officials have released the names of the two men who died  after an explosion at Redstone Arsenal Wednesday morning.

Officials identified the men as Jerry A. Grimes, 58, of Hartselle and James R. Hawke ,53, of Hazel Green. At this time, arrangements have not been announced.

Both were employed by a Redstone Contract partner that provides technical support to the U.S. Army elements at Redstone, AMTEC Corporation of Huntsville.

Redstone released this statement at 4:00 p.m. Thursday afternoon:

"We are deeply saddened by these events and remain steadfast to our commitment to investigate the situation, discover the cause and work to prevent future incidents from occurring.

Amtec expresses sincere thanks to staff and personnel at Redstone Arsenal, to the Huntsville community and to others for their response to yesterday's events. 

A memorial fund has been set up at Redstone Federal Credit Union for the benefit of the surviving spouses and their families."

"We who are a part of Team Redstone share a close bond," said Maj. Gen. Jim
Myles, Commanding General of AMCOM and Redstone Arsenal "When one of our own
is hurt it affects us all. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family
members and friends of those who passed away."

The explosion happened at 8:45 Wednesday morning at Aviation Missile Research Development and Engineering Center test area 10 at building 7352 on Flicker Road, near Gate 3.

Both patients were transported by Med-Flight to University of Alabama at Birmingham Hospital's Burn Center where they later passed away.

One HEMSI paramedic described the scene Wednesday as "horrific." Another responder said the area where the explosion happened is a heavy demolition site. They have been testing there for days.

Arsenal officials said the building was specifically designed for processing ammonium perchlorate, an oxidizer used in solid rocket propellants in both manned and unmanned rocket vehicles, and the building recently passed safety inspections.

"The glass went up and out.  Of course the metal sidings of the buildings got blown away," said Col. Pastorelli.  "They're designed that in case something happens, they blow away to get as much as the hazardous constituents away from the individual as possible."

Trained safety and fire personnel have rendered the site of the explosion
safe (contained) and there is no environmental impact.

"We have vacuum systems when something like this triggers, systems come on, suck all the necessary dangerous gases away capture them or vent them out into the environment which in large quantities and in an open space environment like this. there is no harm to any individuals," said Garrison Commander Col. Robert Pastorelli when asked about decontamination efforts.

"While this is highly dangerous work, our civilians and service members at Redstone Arsenal take pride in their stellar safety record," said  Congressman Parker Griffith.

This is considered a class 'A' incident, so the installation commander will initiate a safety investigation.

Redstone released this statement:

"Daily, the Soldiers, Civilians and Contract Partners (AMTEC) of Team Redstone work together toward the common goal of serving those who serve our nation.  Although we strive to impose the highest safety standards and constantly improve the safety of our workplace, the work that we perform is inherently dangerous work.  We follow very stringent safety standards and
train continuously to make sure those standards are observed.

We are deeply saddened by these events and remain steadfast to our commitment to investigate the situation, discover the cause and work to prevent future incidents from occurring."

Redstone Arsenal was built in 1941 to produce convention chemical ammunition for WWII. Later, Dr. Werner von Braun and his team developed the first ballistic missile. That led to NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in 1960.

Redstone is now home to the Army Aviation and Missile Command. Redstone serves 157,223 Soldiers (active, retired and dependents) and 27,620 civilians.

Redstone is 37,910 acres and has 11.7 million square feet of building space.

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