Working in the hardscrabble poultry processing industry is a dangerous job, but death in a freezing fog of liquid nitrogen vapor is not among the assumed risks.
That sudden, brutal fate was shared by six employees of a Gainesville poultry plant Thursday morning after a liquid nitrogen line ruptured, killing them and injuring several of their coworkers and first responders.
Five people died at the scene on Memorial Park Drive, and 12 others were taken to the emergency room at Northeast Georgia Medical Center with injuries, officials said. One of those patients died at the hospital.
The cause of the leak is unknown and remains under investigation, said Hall County Fire Services spokesman Zach Brackett, who added that there was no explosion.
Employees were transported to a nearby church for medical evaluation. Among those hospitalized, three were Gainesville firefighters and one was a Hall County firefighter. Brackett said the Hall firefighter was being treated for respiratory issues and could be released Friday.
The area was deemed safe at 1:40 p.m. and crime scene investigators began to work the scene, Couch said.