NEWBURYPORT (CBS) – Six explosions tore through a chemical manufacturing business in Newburyport early Thursday morning.
Firefighters were called to PCI Seqens on Opportunity Way around 4:30 a.m. after a fire alarm went off. When they arrived they said there were three explosions and heavy black smoke. Firefighters and less than 10 overnight workers were evacuated from the building in about 15 minutes and then there were three more explosions.
Newburyport Deputy Fire Chief Steve Bradbury said all six explosions were contained to one area.
“We made entry with a robot, got a good picture of the situation and we’re going to put together a plan to try to resolve it,” he told reporters at a news conference.
Authorities said no one was hurt. One blast tore a five by 8 foot hole in the roof. Bradbury said the roof is designed to blow open to relieve any pressure that builds up in that room.
“It worked perfectly, the way it was supposed to,” he said.
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There’s no word yet on specifically what exploded. Investigators say the chemicals in question are solid materials and that the safety measures in place at the facility worked successfully.
In a statement late Thursday morning PCI Seqens said it’s “working diligently” to determine the extent of the damage.
“At this time, we believe it was a mechanical issue from our steam line, and that there was no fire and that the sprinkler system was not discharged,” the company said. “We will provide more information when we learn more.”
Three nearby businesses were closed for the day as a precaution, but employees were allowed in by mid-day.
Bradbury said there are no air quality concerns and the building was turned over to the owner by 1:30 p.m.