PETERBOROUGH, N.H. – An explosion rocked a small-town ball bearings plant on Monday, shaking walls, shattering windows and sending at least 15 people to the hospital, but a company spokeswoman said none of their injuries appeared to be life-threatening.
A New Hampshire Ball Bearings Inc. machine operator, Paul Clark, said he was outside in the parking lot on Monday afternoon when he heard the blast.
“I was in my car backing out when I felt a rumble and heard a bang,” he said. “I looked up, and snow on the building’s roof was flying into the wind.”
The blast blew out windows on the three-story building’s ground floor, Peterborough Fire Department spokesman Eric Bowman said. There was no fire, and a hazardous-materials team was investigating.
It was unclear what caused the explosion, company spokeswoman Kathy Gerrity said. First responders will try to determine the extent of the damage to the facility, and it was unknown when it will be back in operation because it would need to be inspected and deemed safe first, she said.
The plant, in the southwest New Hampshire town that was the inspiration for Thornton Wilder’s play “Our Town,” manufactures high-tech parts for the aerospace industry and employs 700 people. Gerrity said she wasn’t sure how many people were inside when the explosion happened but there are usually about 450 working around that time.
Gov. Maggie Hassan said the state emergency operations center was open to monitor the situation and she was “very encouraged” to hear that all employees had been accounted for.
New Hampshire Ball Bearings’ corporate headquarters are in Chatsworth, Calif. It’s a division of Japanese company Minebea.