Official: Machine was Origin of New Hampshire Explosions

May 17, 2010

The investigation into a series of explosions at a gun and ammunition manufacturing plant in far northern New Hampshire that killed two people has led to one machine, the state’s fire marshal said Saturday.

Bill Degnan said that the investigation into Friday’s explosions at the MDM Muzzleloader building has led to a machine in the manufacturing section of the plant. He said no cause has been determined.

About half of the plant was heavily damaged by the explosions that killed two men and hurt another, shook buildings for blocks away and forced the evacuation of dozens of homes, Degnan said.

The building, located in an industrial park in Colebrook, will be closed “for an extensive period of time,” he said.

The explosions happened in an area where there was some manufacturing taking place, Degnan said. He said investigators were learning what materials were in use. They were told the plant makes gunpowder.

“We actually have some hazardous materials that we’re dealing with,” Degnan said, adding that crews worked Saturday to make the area safe for investigators.

State police, representatives of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration were also at the scene Saturday.

Autopsies were done on the two men in Concord. Their names have not been released. Degnan said investigators were trying to determine whether they worked at the plant.

The explosions Friday afternoon filled the sky with black smoke. Mia West, the town’s public information officer, said firefighters were unable to get close enough because ammunition was still going off more than two hours later.

About 40 nearby homes were evacuated. All residents were allowed to return Friday night, Degnan said.

Colebrook is about 140 miles north of the capital city of Concord and 10 miles from the Canadian border.

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