Photo: Feuerwehr Bad Rothenfelde

GERMANY: Mystery still surrounds an explosion and fire at a refrigeration plant in Dissen in Osnabrück, Germany, in which two men suffered severe burns and six others were injured.

The explosion took place on Saturday morning (July 22) while engineers were carrying out work on the refrigeration system at a MUK/Transthermos refrigerated warehouse.

The routine maintenance work on the refrigeration plant is said to have involved the “exchange of individual components for technical reasons”.

The local fire brigade reported that it arrived at the scene to find an “extensive” fire in the area of ​​the refrigeration systems on the back of the building. The “violent explosion” had also blown large lumps of debris on to the adjacent A33 autobahn, forcing its closure for two hours.

Two men, aged 20 and 27, suffered severe burn injuries and were flown by helicopters to specialist clinics. Four others were injured and two firefighters had to be treated in the course of the incident.

The incident is currently under investigation but the police blamed “improper procedures” during the maintenance work. 

The MUK/Transthermos plant in Dissen

It has been widely reported that the system was using highly flammable propane refrigerant. Transthermos refused to confirm this “since the investigations are still ongoing”, but the Osnabrück police maintained that the refrigerant was propane. 

An earlier confusing statement by the police on the maintenance work being carried out said that the “propane gas had to be drained, cooled down with nitrogen and cleaned”.