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A West Peoria man is dead after fire at Caterpillar Mapleton foundry

An ambulance with its lights on. The text "WCBU Police and Fire" is laid on top of that photo.

Authorities are investigating after a fire at Caterpillar's Mapleton foundry left a person dead Thursday evening.

Peoria County Sheriff Chris Watkins said deputies responded to a call of a fire at the foundry around 5 p.m. and confirmed a person had died.

A sheriff's office report released Friday morning said a 28-year-old man was trying to transfer molten metal from a large furnace into a smaller pot when the metal spilled out, killing him.

Peoria County Coroner Jamie Harwood identified the man on Friday afternoon as Daulton Simmers of West Peoria. Simmers suffered severe thermal burns across his entire body and likely died within seconds, Harwood said.

"We are deeply saddened by the death of a colleague at our Mapleton, Illinois, facility on June 6, and are working with authorities as the incident is investigated," said a Caterpillar spokesperson. "We will have counselors onsite for our facility employees, and our thoughts are with the affected family, friends and colleagues."

The last death at the foundry was in June 2022, when 39-year-old Steven Dierkes fell into a crucible of molten metal, with temperatures of more than 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit.

Caterpillar was fined more than $145,000 for that incident by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for failure to provide guardrails or other safeguards for employees working four feet or less above the melters. The company is contesting that fine.

Contractors were cited for a December 2021 incident where Scott Adams, 50, died after falling 24 feet through a hole at the foundry.

OSHA has found six violations at the Mapleton foundry since July 2020. That included an incident where an employee had two fingers amputated after their left hand was crushed in a core making machine.

Tim is the News Director at WCBU Peoria Public Radio.