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Six hurt in McNeilus plant explosion


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Owatonna  /  January 11, 2017

An explosion injured at least six workers, some seriously, and shut down production Wednesday at the McNeilus Truck and Manufacturing plant in Dodge Center.

According to Dodge County Sheriff Scott Rose, the blast occurred in the plant’s final paint building and was first reported to 911 at 10:32 a.m.

“Law enforcement, medical and fire responded, and determined the explosion took place in the paint booth of that building,” Rose said. “At this point, the origin of the blast is unknown. We have the gas company on the scene as well as the fire marshal and investigators from the Dodge County Sheriff’s Office.”

Two workers with reported severe burns were airlifted by Mayo One and Mayo Three to Regions Hospital in St. Paul, and two more workers who were hit by objects were transported by ambulance to Mayo Clinic Hospital, St. Mary’s Campus, with unspecified serious but non-life-threatening injuries, Rose said. Two more workers were treated for minor medical needs on-site.

“All employees are accounted for. They did a head count right away to make sure they have everyone accounted for in the building,” said Rose, who added family of all the injured workers had been notified as of 1 p.m.

The blast apparently was powerful enough to damage doors at both ends of the long, thin paint building, and Rose said the four seriously injured workers are believed to be the only ones in the building at the time, with the burn victims working next to the paint booth where the blast occurred. Still, it was a stroke of luck that so few workers were on hand, he said.

“It sounds like the majority of the employees that would have been in that area were gone for training, so I think we’re fortunate that we didn’t have more injuries because of this incident,” Rose said.

After the blast, the plant was closed down for the remainder of the day, and police temporarily shut down Highway Street E and other nearby roads except for employees leaving the area.

Rose said McNeilus would have further information by Thursday. No information was available from the company Wednesday afternoon. He said there have been no past police calls for safety concerns at the plant, and that his office has a good working relationship with the company.

At his press conference, Rose praised the many fire, ambulance and police agencies that responded as well as McNeilus officials for their response to the explosion.

“We’re a small community, and this is not the type of incident that we normally would deal with here,” he said. “Between working with the MTM officials and their safety people, and then all the law enforcement, fire and medical that responded, as well as the [Department of Transportation], everybody did a great job handling this event.”

McNeilus Truck and Manufacturing (https://www.mcneiluscompanies.com/) is owned by Oshkosh Corporation and produces concrete mixer and garbage truck bodies. It is one of the major employers in Dodge Center.

In addition to the Dodge County Sheriff’s Office and Mayo helicopters, agencies responding to the explosion include Dodge Center, Kasson and West Concord Fire Departments; Dodge Center, Hayfield, West Concord and Gold Cross Ambulance Services; and Kasson Police, Olmsted County Sheriff’s Office and Minnesota State Patrol.



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McNeilus plant back to work after Wednesday explosion

Owatonna  /  January 12, 2017

Workers were back on the job Thursday at McNeilus Truck and Manufacturing, one day after an explosion that severely injured several employees.

The Dodge Center manufacturing plant, which was evacuated after the blast Wednesday morning in a paint booth, is owned by Oshkosh Corporation. Oshkosh Vice President of Global Branding and Communication Bryan Brandt said most operations have now resumed.

“Beside the building being impacted, the rest of the team members returned to work today,” he said.

In the damaged paint building, McNeilus is working with investigators from the Dodge County Sheriff’s Office, the Deputy State Fire Marshal and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Brandt said. The cause of the explosion is not yet known.

After the explosion, two workers were airlifted to Regions Hospital in St. Paul with severe burn injuries, and two others were transported to Mayo Clinic Hospital, St. Marys Campus, in Rochester with other serious injuries. Brandt declined to comment further on their status.

“We’re not ready to say anything, due to the sensitivities of the families,” he said.

McNeilus Truck and Manufacturing produces concrete mixer and garbage truck bodies. It is one of the major employers in Dodge Center.

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