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Investigators Searching For Cause Of Explosion At NH Plant

By Michael Rosenfield, WBZ-TV
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PETERBOROUGH, N.H. (CBS) — Boarded up windows and debris in the snow– just part of the aftermath of an expolosion at New Hampshire Ball Bearings.

The blast injured 14 including Kelly Hull who was treated at a local hospital.

“It’s just sore spots on my back from the debris that hit me,” said Hull, who estimates she was about 30 feet from the blast site. “It was inhalation injuries. It was from breathing the debris that was in the air.”

Before her own injuries were looked at, Hull had already helped save a co-worker who was badly burned.

“We just threw snow on her because she was burned…her head, her hands,” said Hull.

Tuesday, investigators were trying to figure out what happened and have narrowed their focus.

“We’re looking at a process where they have an acid room when they work with different chemicals,” said New Hampshire Deputy State Fire Marshal Max Schultz. “We’re in that area taking a look at where the damage is.”

Investigators are interviewing workers who were in the acid room and trying to determine if there were one or two explosions.

There is substantial damage to the first floor windows and walls.

“We will be bringing in structural engineers to go through it, but right now with a quick eyeball it appears the building is structurally sound,” said Peterborough Fire Chief Joseph Lenox.

For now the building is closed to employees, but company vice president Rich Bardellini won’t say if the workers will be paid while they’re off of work.

“I can’t speak to that at this point,” Bardellini said.

New Hampshire Governor Maggie Hassan, who toured the plant Tuesday, said she hopes the company will pay workers while they are off the job, but says state assistance is available.

Workers who were in the plant at the time of the explosion—still on edge.

“I do feel lucky, I feel nervous, I was shaking last night even hours after it happened,” said Tim Heaphy.

Of the 14 injured, two remain in Boston hospitals for burns and trauma. Everyone else has been released.

WBZ checked state records and found the company was cited for four serious violations between 2005 and 2007 which resulted in informal settlements with OSHA.

MORE LOCAL NEWS FROM CBS BOSTON

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