Roof failure at Hwashin plant

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 19, 2006

A roof at Hwashin America Co. collapsed on Tuesday morning sending one worker to the hospital as officials attempted to determine the cause of the accident.

The roof over the main office and cafeteria area at Hwashin experienced a partial collapse, according to plant manager Gary Malak.

&#8220We evacuated the entire building,” said Malak.

The employee - a female who worked in the office area - was transported to L.V. Stabler Memorial Hospital as a precautionary measure, added Malak. Her injuries were not serious or life threatening, he said.

Workers milled about the plant outside as Greenville firemen and police officers investigated the inside of the structure. Pieces of ceiling tile and trash were scattered along the sidewalks leading out of the plant. The middle of the structure was buckled inward.

Malak said the majority of office employees would be sent home for the day, but that the plant would try to continue production on Tuesday.

Plant officials were in contact with building contractors immediately after the accident, which took place at approximately 9:45 a.m. Hwashin officials have yet to determine the reason for the roof's collapse, but speculation was that heavy rain in Greenville on Tuesday morning contributed to the cause.

&#8220The water was up to my ankles,” said Lt. Anthony Barganier, spokesman for the Greenville Police Department.

Barganier said there was standing water inside the office when he arrived on the scene.

A band of heavy thundershowers that ripped through Louisiana and Texas arrived in Greenville on Tuesday, saturating roads. Some power outages were reported and police cars were dispatched to roadways prone to heavy flooding, such as beneath the underpass on Commerce St.

The storm system caused widespread flooding in parts of Texas and Louisiana and spawned 15 confirmed tornadoes.

Hwashin is a Tier 1 supplier to the Hyundai Automotive facility in Hope Hull.