Tomahawk mill worker in critical condition - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Tomahawk mill worker in critical condition

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TOMAHAWK (WAOW) - A Tomahawk cardboard factory worker who suffered severe burns while trying to light a boiler remained in critical condition Thursday at University of Wisconsin Hospital in Madison, a spokeswoman said.

Dave Blank, human resources manager at Packaging Corporation of America in Tomahawk, said Mike Slesicki, 53, was burned Tuesday when he tried to reignite a coal-fired boiler that had been shut down for maintenance in the company's power house.

"It was not an explosion," Blank said. "We are still conducting the investigation. They were going through a normal start-up."

The accident happened about 9:30 a.m. and no one else was hurt, Blank said. Slesicki was a longtime worker at the mill, according to the company.

Slesicki was flown to Madison after the accident, the Lincoln County Sheriff's Department said. He's at least the seventh worker at the plant seriously hurt in fire-related accidents in recent years.

PGA makes containerboard and corrugated packaging.

Last July, a 47-year-old man and 29-year-old man, both of Michigan, who were contract workers at the mill, died after being severely burned by fly ash, a product typically produced during the burning of coal.

In July 2008, a tank used to store recycled fiber at the factory exploded, killing three workers and injuring a fourth. The workers were performing maintenance on top of it, including doing some welding, investigators said.

According to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the company was cited with six safety violations and had to pay a fine of more than $22,000.

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