Lawyer recalls 1999 explosion at now-UltraTec plant

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MADISON COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) - Learning of Friday's UltraTec blast was a chilling case of deja vu for an attorney who got a call from victims of a pyrotechnics explosion 16 years before.

"It appears to be the same type of explosion. A very large explosion," said Birmingham personal injury attorney Glenda Cochran.

She says her heart goes out to families and victims, and emphasizes that in a heavily regulated industry, these incidents 'should not happen.'

When the attorney heard about the explosion, it brought her back to 1999.

"There was a huge explosion at the same plant, but at the time it was operating under a different name," she said.

New management, new company, same location. It was called Luna Tech, and they had four fires and explosions in the late 1990s and 2000s. Cochran represented two of three people injured in the explosion.

"One of them later died as a result of his burn injuries," she explained.

That case led to thousands of dollars in fines after investigators found that self-detonating explosives were improperly stored and the construction of the lab magazine where employees worked was not up to applicable construction codes., which require blow out walls to minimize risk to workers.

"That explosion was tragic, but it was preventable," she said. "It saddens me to see that it happened again in the same place."