Pent-up gases exploded in a kiln-like oven at a Warren, RI, factory late Wednesday morning, severely burning a man standing near the oven and also injuring four others.
The blast occurred in WaterRower’s 46,000-square-foot building, officials said.
Firefighters and rescuers found a man with second-and third-degree burns to his hands and face when they went to WaterRower’s factory at 560 Metacom Ave. at 11:44 a.m., said Fire Chief Alexander Galinelli.
The burned employee, who walked to a stretcher, and four others, including two people who fell down while trying to leave the building and one who passed out, ended up taken to Rhode Island Hospital, Galinelli said. He did not identify the victims by name and said he did not immediately know their conditions.
The explosion blew out some of the walls of a 30-foot by 60-foot room where six people were working, Galinelli said.
The piece of equipment that blew up was an oven with two doors, he said.
As part of a manufacturing process, employees roll a rack into the unit. The rack carries parts of the rowing machines the factory produces.
The oven is part of a finishing process that follows an application of paint to the parts, Galinelli said.
An investigation by the town Fire Department found due to a malfunction, gas built up in the furnace and exploded, Galinelli said.
The incident is also being investigated by the state fire marshal and the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, he said.
WaterRower has about 200 employees working at the Metacom Avenue facility, Galinelli said.