Rouse blast claims 5th man

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 30, 2002

[05/30/02]An explosion and flash fire at a rubber-recycling plant in south Vicksburg two weeks ago has claimed its fifth victim.

John Davenport, 27, of Vicksburg, died at 7:30 this morning at Mississippi Firefighters Memorial Burn Center in Greenville, center spokesman Robby Scucchi said.

The explosion happened about 6 p.m. on May 16 while about 20 employees were at work in and around Rouse Polymerics International Inc., a rubber-recycling production facility on U.S. 61 South.

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Twelve men were killed or injured. Three remain in treatment at the burn center.

Antonio Hamlin, 21, of Port Gibson, was in critical condition there this morning, and Patrick Rader, 29, of Vicksburg and George Stewart, 33, of Fayette were in good condition, Scucchi said.

In addition to Davenport, those who have died are C. Theodore “Teddy” Smith, 40, of Vicksburg, who died hours after the blast on May 17; Tywayne Croskey, 24, Port Gibson, May 21; Alfred Harrison, 42, Tallulah, May 22; and Roy Deaton, 50, Vicksburg, May 23.

Three men were hospitalized and later discharged, and one was treated and released the night of the fire.

The cause of the fire has been under investigation by federal, state, local and insurance-company officials, with the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration in the lead.

After the explosion, fire swept the entire 60,000-square-foot building.

Rouse Polymerics International Inc.’s products are powdered rubber, made from grinding and drying scrap rubber and used in the manufacture of tires and other products.