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There was an explosion and subsequent fire at a Freetown, MA, chemical plant Friday, fire officials said.

An explosion and fire at the Ashland Specialty Ingredients plant on South Main Street occurred just before 2 p.m., fire officials said.

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The explosion occurred inside a 30-foot-tall dryer involved in the processing of peroxydone, which is used as a whitening agent in toothpaste, said Gary Rhodes, an Ashland spokesman.

Three employees evacuated from the building. At least 50 people working in an adjacent building were allowed to remain on site, he said.

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A fire lieutenant said the explosion was confined to a processing cylinder, and there was no structural damage to the factory.

No one was hurt and the fire was under control by 5 p.m.

The company will conduct an investigation, Rhodes said. 

“We don’t know the cause just yet,” he said.

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