NH Factory Explosion Puts 15 Ball Bearing Makers in Hospital

Image: NH Factory Explosion Puts 15 Ball Bearing Makers in Hospital

Tuesday, 11 Feb 2014 09:56 AM

By Michael Mullins

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A factory explosion in Peterborough, N.H., left at least 15 people in the hospital Monday after a first-floor blast shattered windows and shook the walls at a ball bearings facility.

An investigation has been launched to find out what triggered the factory explosion, according to Peterborough Fire Department spokesman Eric Bowman. Aside from the injuries and structural damage to the New Hampshire Ball Bearings Inc. plant, Bowman said that there didn’t appear to be any environmental damage, the Associated Press reported.

"I was in my car backing out when I felt a rumble and heard a bang," New Hampshire Ball Bearings machine operator Paul Clark told the AP. "I looked up, and snow on the building’s roof was flying into the wind."

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"Smoke came pouring out [and] I could hear somebody screaming," Clark added.

"At this point we don’t know what caused the explosion, but we know it was an in-house issue," Kathy Gerrity, assistant to the president at New Hampshire Ball Bearings Inc., told the Boston Globe. "We are rolling out emergency procedures."

At least two of the 15 injured people were listed in critical condition and flown to hospitals outside the immediate area. The conditions of the remaining 13 were not reported.

"My thoughts and prayers go out to those injured in today’s explosion, to their families and loved ones, and to the entire Peterborough area where NH Ball Bearings is such an important member of the community," New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan said in a statement.

The Southeastern New Hampshire town of Peterborough, in addition to being the inspiration for "Our Town," a Pulitzer Prize-winning play first performed in 1938, is home to the MacDowell Colony, a prestigious retreat for artists, writers and composers. Wilder based the fictional town of Grover's Corners on Peterborough, where he often spent his summers, the AP reported.

A division of Japanese company Minebea, the New Hampshire Ball Bearings Inc. plant is headquartered in Chatsworth, Calif. and manufactures high-tech parts for the aerospace industry. Approximately 450 workers were at the three-story plant when the explosion occurred Monday afternoon. The facility is said to employ 700 individuals overall.

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