One person killed, another injured in Oakland plant explosion - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

One person killed, another injured in Oakland plant explosion

OAKLAND, TN (WMC-TV) - One person was killed and another injured when the Kinematics Research plant in Oakland, Tennessee exploded around 1:45 p.m. Wednesday.

Oakland Police Chief Rick Jewell said one person, an employee, was trapped in the plant after the explosion.  Authorities later confirmed that person was killed.

Jewell said the plant housed several thousand rounds and gunpowder. Witnesses said debris shot into the air during several explosions spanning a half-hour.

>>Click here to watch video of the fire submitted by Action News 5 viewer Joe Purdue<<

Fire crews could not get close to the building because of the danger. One firefighter was slightly injured, apparently hit by a bullet or fragment of some kind.

Jeremy Heidt, a spokesman for the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency, said there also was a fire, and a large plume of smoke was billowing from the plant.

>>Click here to watch Chopper 5 video from the scene<<

"The fire was burning pretty good," said Ed Gaugh of the Fayette County EMA. "There was a lot of rounds.  It's a reload facility and a lot of rounds going off.  Firefighters did the best they could to put it out."

Other witnesses at the scene said they could hear ammunitions going off at the plant for at least 30 minutes after the initial explosion. Emergency crews had to evacuate neighboring businesses as a safety precaution.

"We evacuated two buildings on either side because there were rounds going off while the fire was burning," Gaugh said.

Investigators believe the explosion may have started in a packing area at the facility, but they are not sure what caused it.

When firefighters arrived on the scene, they went inside to search for the employee who did not escape.

"Two men went up in the building with a camera looking for the gentleman," said Oakland Fire Chief Rudy Doyle.  "A search of the building couldn't find him."

The firefighters had to get out fast as the fire accelerated.

Friends and family waited for any news.

"When you have family and friends that work in there, it's pretty scary," said Steve Joyner, a relative of one of the employees.  "Just fortunate they got out OK."

Police have no released the name of the man killed in the explosion, but said he was 34 years old.

Kinematics, which has been in business since 1992, makes new and remanufactured ammunition for pistols and rifles. The company's phone line was busy Wednesday afternoon.

The plant is located in a collection of industrial buildings, including a car body shop and a concrete company. They were evacuated after the explosion. No homes are located nearby.

Oakland, a town of 3,200, is about 30 miles northeast of Memphis.

Copyright 2011 WMC-TV. All rights reserved.  The AP contributed to this story.

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