The fire broke out in the wood processing area of the three-year-old plant in the early hours of Saturday, September 22. Workers are understood to have been trying to clear a blockage in the log processing line when an explosion occurred in the fibre screening section resulting in the blaze.

According to local press reports, fire fighters from a nearby petrochemicals plant were joined by a district force of firemen tackling the fire which took several hours to fully extinguish. Masisa employees who suffered severe burns were taken to several local hospitals.

A 43-year-old plant worker is reported to have died of his injuries within hours of the incident and two others, one aged 60 and the other 26, died three days later. An 18-year-old employee subsequently passed away while a fifth worker, of 29, was reported to have died from his injuries more than a week after the fire.

In a brief statement, Masisa do Brasil said the plant was shut down and its technicians, alongside the fire brigade, police and local authorities are investigating the cause of the explosion and fire.

In early October, local media reported that up to 100 workers from the Montenegro industrial zone protested outside the panel plant over safety at the site.