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Six Injured in McNeilus Truck & Manufacturing Explosion; Community Reacts

January 12, 2017 07:51 AM

(ABC 6 NEWS) – Six people were injured Wednesday morning after an explosion at McNeilus Truck and Manufacturing in Dodge Center.

Dodge County Sheriff Scott Rose says crews were dispatched to the scene around at 10:32 a.m.

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“Law enforcement, medical and fire responded determined the explosion took place in the paint booth,” added Sheriff Rose.

Two employees were flown by helicopter to Regions Hospital in St. Paul for severe burn injuries. Two others were transported to Saint Marys Hospital in Rochester.  Sheriff Rose says two other workers were treated on scene.

“At this point the origin of the blast is unknown. We have the gas company on scene as well as Fire Marshal’s Office and investigators from the Dodge County Sheriff’s Office investigating the scene at this time,” said Sheriff Rose.

Doors to the final painting building could be seen by chopper video blasted out. Sheriff Rose says the situation could’ve been worse.

“We’re pretty fortunate from an employee standpoint, a lot of employees were gone for training. We are fortunate we didn’t have more injuries because of this incident.”

Victim family members were notified shortly after the explosion. All employees were accounted for before production staff were sent home.

“There’s probably shook up with an incident like this, my understanding it was quite an explosion. Fortunately a lot of them were on training, there could’ve been a lot more people there,” added Rose.

Law enforcement assistance for this incident came from Kasson Police, Minnesota State Patrol, and the Olmsted County Sheriff’s Office.

Fire Departments from Dodge Center, Kasson, and West Concord also assisted in this incident.

Ambulance Services involved included Dodge Center Ambulance Service, Hayfield Ambulance Service, West Concord Ambulance Service, Gold Cross Ambulance, and Mayo One and Mayo Three.

“All the responding agencies here did a great job. We are a small community, this is not the type of incident we would normally deal with here,” said Rose.

Small town explosions don’t happen every day, but when they do, they tend to shock their communities. The small city of Dodge Center experienced every kind of sight and sound for a catastrophic event.

“I was sleeping and I was awakened by Mayo One,” nearby neighbor Pam Stubbs said. “It was right by our house and all of a sudden right after, I heard tons of sirens going off and looked out my window and saw tons of flashing lights and lots of emergency vehicles and cars were coming and parking on the side road here.”

For neighbors like Stubbs, this hit close to home, but for others in the community, it was close to the heart. Randee Hendrichs used to work at McNeilus just up the road from where she works now at Casey’s convenience store in Dodge Center.

“Pretty much just made my heart hurt,” Henrichs said. “I know a lot of people who work out there. I used to work out there I used to work out there so a lot of them were former coworkers and friends.”

Then there were others, who were a part of the explosion. A McNeilus employee, who wishes to remain anonymous, said he was inside the building next door to where the explosion took place.

 “The next thing you know there was a big boom that happened and windows [were] shooting out of the building, and we kind of felt a little bit of a shake too,” he said. “There was smoke pouring out and flames shooting all around the building and we got out of there pretty [quickly],” he said.


Credits

Karsen Forsman; Elise Romas; Olivia York

Copyright 2017 - KAAL-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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