PETERBOROUGH – Two people are in critical condition after an explosion at NH Ball Bearings on Monday afternoon.
At least 15 people were injured.
Monadnock Community Hospital said it had 15 patients from the incident; seven were treated and released, two were taken to other hospitals for treatment.
Two of these people were transported to hospital by medical helicopter. It is not known whether these were the two critically ill patients.
Authorities do not know how many people were in the building at the time of the explosion, but everyone has been found, said Eric Bowman, public information officer for the Peterborough Fire Department.
The authorities do not yet know what was the cause. It’s not considered malicious, Bowman said.
There was no fire with the explosion, which occurred on the first floor of the building on Route 202 at around 3:30 pm The firefighters do not know if it was a chemical or gas explosion.
This happened in the ball bearing department, said Hans M. Baker of the NH Ball Bearings communications department.
One of the quality control workers on the second floor said the explosion was strong enough to lift the workers off the floor. The explosion rocked the building and was felt at least a quarter of a mile away.
Firefighters from 10 towns and eight ambulances responded to the scene, Bowman said. More than 100 rescuers in all were present.
The Keene Fire Department Hazardous Materials Team was called to the scene.
NH Ball Bearings was founded just over six decades ago in a wooden warehouse on the banks of the Contoocook River.
The company, which employs more than 1,500 workers at three manufacturing plants in the United States, was purchased in 1985 by Minebea, a global manufacturing conglomerate.
The company manufactures precision bearings and complex bearing assemblies for the aerospace, defense, medical, dentistry and high-tech markets. Its products include miniature and precision instrument bearings and large ball and roller bearings for aircraft engines.
In June 2013, it purchased CEROBEAR GmbH, which manufactures bearings with state-of-the-art ceramics. The company, in Herzogenrath, Germany, operates as an independent subsidiary directly under NH Ball Bearings Inc.