Survivor of Corbin plant explosion shares memories on 10th anniversary

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CORBIN, Ky. (WKYT) - It's now been ten years since an explosion and fire rocked a southern Kentucky factory, killing seven people.

Investigators ruled dust that accumulated in a production area sparked the explosion at CTA Acoustics in Corbin on February 20, 2003. 37 people were injured along with the seven killed.

A man, who was working at the plant, shared his memories of that day with us. And he says he remembers the explosion like it was yesterday.

"The first explosion went off," said Earl Patterson, Jr., a former employee who was working at the plant during the explosion.

CTA Acoustics Plant, ten years ago today, went up in flames after an explosion.

"I heard another explosion. That's when I heard bricks and material falling," said Patterson.

It's a thing of the past for some, but for Patterson, he says he thinks about the explosion every day, remembering each and every moment.

"Then there was like a third explosion and then I looked over at my coworker, and this fireball came over my forklift," said Patterson.

He knows he narrowly escaped with his life.

"Where I was at, there was a brick wall separating me from the production area," said Patterson. "If that wall wasn't there, I would have been hurt or even worse."

But seven of good friends and coworkers weren't as lucky and didn't survive.

"He was taller than me, and his skin was literally dropping to the ground," said Patterson. "I found the wall where he was laying up against. And you could see that outline on that wall of the shadow where the fire blew around him."

Photos of the aftermath have actually been therapeutic for Patterson.

"Looking at them and talking to people about them kind of helps get the emotion out of me," said Patterson.

But he says he knows nothing can change or fix what happened that day.

"Because once that person's gone, that's it," said Patterson.

CTA Acoustics has since built a new plant at another site in Corbin. Plant officials there did not want to comment on the anniversary.

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