An explosion at Holston Army Ammunition Plant was felt miles away Thursday.
The blast, which happened just before noon, was related to a fire that started about four hours earlier.
According to a Joint Munitions Command spokesperson, an alarm sounded around 8 a.m. indicating a fire inside a building containing explosives. On-site emergency crews responded to the scene and secured the burning building.
The spokesperson says a worker who was close to the fire was taken to a hospital for observation, but no employees were inside the building that caught fire.
Since the fire was in a building containing explosives, plant officials decided to let the building burn instead of risking the lives of emergency responders.
Officials at the installation say explosions may be heard due to the controlled burn, but there is no risk for safety to the public.
Following the explosion, a long line of cars was seen leaving the area of the plant.
HAAP officials told our sister station WJHL “at the time of the incident employees in the immediate area of the building were evacuated to designated on-site safe havens. There was no mandatory evacuation ordered, but employees in that specific production area were allowed to go home. In addition, there were no evacuations outside of the installation.”
The plant has halted production.
WJHL was told the building will be a complete loss after it burns to the ground.
According to Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation spokesperson, Kim Schofinski, “TDEC has been notified of the incident and we have been in contact with local responders throughout the day.”
Barry Brickey, with Kingsport Fire Department, says firefighters were on standby just in case BAE needs assistance. KFD says the department is no longer on scene. Fire trucks were seen leaving the plant around 3 p.m.
BAE, which operates the plant, has its own fire department at the installation.