PLANT

Investigators probe explosion at NH ball bearings plant

15 injured in blast that is being viewed as an industrial-related accident.


PETERBOROUGH, NH — First responders are working to determine what caused an explosion at a ball bearings plant that shattered windows, shook walls and sent at least 15 people to the hospital.

The Feb. 10 blast at the New Hampshire Ball Bearings Inc. plant in Peterborough is being investigated but all indications were that it was an industrial-related incident, said Peterborough Fire Department spokesman Eric Bowman. There didn’t appear to be any environmental damage.

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. Company spokeswoman Kathy 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.

The blast blew out windows on the three-story building’s ground floor, and the first arriving firefighters saw a column of smoke, said Bowman.

Gov. Maggie Hassan said the state emergency operations centre was open to monitor the situation.

Two of the 15 people injured were treated at Monadnock Community Hospital and later were flown to other hospitals, spokeswoman Laura Gingras said. The rest were released by the evening.

Bowman said in a news release that two people had suffered critical injuries.

New Hampshire Ball Bearings’ corporate headquarters are in Chatsworth, Calif. It’s a division of Japanese company Minebea.