A power plant under construction in central Connecticut exploded with earthquake force that shook homes as workers purged natural gas lines in preparation for the plant to open this year. At least five people were killed and more than two dozen were injured as a section of the plant collapsed and burned.
Witnesses said the explosion at the Kleen Energy Systems plant in Middletown, 15 miles south of Hartford, occurred at 11:17 a.m. in a thundering convulsion of flames and smoke seen for miles around.
Fire and rescue teams from Middletown, Durham, Portland, Cromwell and other towns converged as crews fought the blaze into the afternoon. The explosion apparently occurred in the largest building, called the Power Block, which was destroyed.
The explosion was under investigation by the state and local police and by several federal agencies, including the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the Justice Department’s Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the United States Chemical Safety Board, which examines chemical industrial accidents.
Fire officials said the explosion occurred as workers for the construction company, O & G Industries, were purging the pipelines of natural gas, the main source of fuel for the plant, in a procedure known as a blow-down.
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