1 dead after blast, fire in Tenn. ammo, explosives plant

An explosion and fire at a plant outside Nashville in Tennessee where several ammunition and explosives businesses are based killed one person and left three injured on April 16, 2014 WTVF-TV

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- An explosion and fire at a plant in Tennessee where several ammunition and explosives businesses are based has killed one person and left three injured.

Police and fire dispatchers said rescue workers were called Wednesday afternoon to a blast at a plant in McEwen, about 55 miles west of Nashville.

The property where the plant is based is home to several businesses that have federal licenses for ammunition or explosives, said Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives spokesman Michael Knight. Knight said it was unclear which plant was involved, and he said agents were still trying to determine exactly what happened.

"It's been a tragic incident," CBS Nashville affiliate WTVF-TV quotes ATF Special Agent Jeff Fulton as saying. "We've had a loss of life, so we want to make sure an investigator doesn't get injured. It's gonna take us a little while to get this scene stabilized, get a engineer in here, get some heavy equipment in here and make sure we don't have some explosive powers that will hurt somebody."

Investigators tell the station there's no reason to believe this is a criminal case, but they have to look at all possibilities.

"The explosion did considerable damage to the facility," said Odell Poyner, director of the Humphreys County Emergency Management Agency.

Poyner said authorities received reports that about 20 employees were in the building at the time of the explosion, which blew out two of the walls and a large portion of the roof. He said he didn't know who owned the building but he believed that the property it sits on belongs to Accurate Energetic Systems, a company whose website identifies it as a manufacturer of explosive materials for the defense and aerospace industries.

A telephone number listed for AES rang busy numerous times and later was picked up by a recording saying the business was closed.

Three men and one woman were taken to Vanderbilt University Medical Center, where one was pronounced dead, hospital spokesman Craig Boerner said. He said the survivors had "blast injuries" that ranged in severity from minor to critical.

Firefighters from both Humphreys and Hickman counties battled the blaze at the plant, located in a rural area right near the line dividing the counties, Poyner said. The fire ignited several brush fires in a nearby forested area. All had been extinguished by Wednesday night, he said.

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