As the first shift at Falk Corporation in Milwaukee cranked along Wednesday morning, December 6, the troubling smell of gas drifted through an annex just off the main production building.
Workers called supervisors and began heading for the doors.
Moments later, at 8:07 a.m., a massive and deadly explosion ripped through the Menomonee Valley factory. It killed three, injured 46 and left a swath of one of the city's oldest companies a charred, smoking skeleton.
The three killed were identified as Curtis J. Lane, 38, a maintenance worker from Oconomowoc; Thomas M. Letendre, 49, a forklift driver from Milwaukee; and Daniel T. Kuster, 35, a maintenance worker from Mayville.
The Falk complex covers 61 acres, with 1.5 million square feet of buildings. In all, there were about 600 people working at the complex at the time of the explosion. The building that exploded is actually two structures that are connected, said Evan Zeppos, who was handling public relations for Falk late Wednesday. One, called the Annex, was used for storage of component parts used in the manufacturing process. The other, known as the 2-2 building, was used largely as a maintenance facility.
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