Blast at aerospace plant leads to major damage, 5 injuries

NEWPORT, Wash. (AP) — Authorities say a "very significant" explosion rocked an aerospace plant in northeast Washington, toppling large pieces of machinery, lifting an entire floor off its foundation and seriously injuring five people.

Brian Schaeffer, assistant chief of the Spokane Fire Department who responded to the scene, said early Wednesday that the sheer power of the blast and the shrapnel it created caused the majority of the damage and there was little to no fire Tuesday night at Zodiac Aerospace in Newport, a city near the Idaho border.

He says 30 people were in the building but most escaped. He says two people were critically injured and three seriously injured.

Schaeffer says the blast stemmed from vapors released during chemical manufacturing, but there is no more danger to surrounding areas.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

An explosion at an aerospace plant in northeast Washington state Tuesday night injured five people, authorities said.

Pend Oreille County Sheriff's officials said two of the five were airlifted to a Spokane hospital, according to KXLY-TV of Spokane. There was no immediate word on the nature of the injuries.

The blast occurred at Zodiac Aerospace in Newport, a city near the Idaho border.

The sheriff's dispatch office said the first calls about the explosion came in just before 9 p.m. PDT.

Volunteer firefighter Christopher Demlow told station KHQ that the blast shook his home, located three blocks from the plant.

"It shook every window in the house," he said in an on-air interview. "We saw a big plume of smoke coming up from the factory area."

He then went to the plant and said there was damage inside a building but no fire.

KXLY said witnesses reported a nearby apartment building and fast food restaurant were evacuated.

The cause of the explosion was not immediately known.

Zodiac Aerospace reportedly makes aircraft interiors at the Newport facility. A call to the plant rang unanswered late Tuesday night.