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Factory recovers from water tank collapse and fires

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By SHAINA STOCKTON, Staff
Vaughan-Bassett Furniture in Galax was scheduled to be operating at full capacity again April 17, after shutting down operations in the wake of a massive water tank collapse on April 10, which caused structural damage and multiple fires.
As of Monday, the plant was almost finished with repairs and debris removal, and the company reported that 75 percent of workers were back at their stations.
Operations were expected to be back at full capacity on Tuesday.
Members of the Galax Volunteer Fire Department, the Galax Police Department and the Galax-Grayson EMS rushed to the scene of the accident last week at the plant next to Chestnut Creek, when a leak in the 200,000 gallon water tank turned into a catastrophic structural failure.
First responders took one employee to the hospital for treatment of minor injuries after he was washed into the creek by the sudden rush of water from the tank. The man was able to go home later that day.
The building suffered significant damages. There was damage to the walls, which resulted in severed power lines that sparked three fires in two sawdust silos and a wood chip trailer.
Firefighters were there for around four hours dealing with the aftermath of the collapse, said Fire Chief David Hankley.
Sheila Key of Vaughan-Bassett told the Gazette that, when the collapse happened, the noise sounded like an explosion. “When you hear a noise like that, you automatically think of steam pressure or [a combustion of] sawdust,” Key said.
With the dust collection system shut down because of the damage, employees were sent home and the plant was closed for cleanup and repairs.