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Man Hurt in Electrical Explosion at Local Plant

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ARMANDO RIOS
Bulletin Staff Writer

A 56-year-old Mountain Home man was injured in an industrial accident Thursday morning at Eaton Corp.

Gene Thompson, an employee of Crawford Electric, suffered burns to his right arm and to the right side of his face, according to Capt. Danny Kerns of the Mountain Home Fire Department. Thompson was listed in serious condition after being taken to Baxter Regional Medical Center before being transferred to St. John's Medical Center in Springfield, Mo., according to Sharon Miller, communications specialist at BRMC. Hospital officials in Springfield did not have information on his condition.

Fire Chief Ken Williams described it as a high voltage flash burn.

Kerns said the fire department received a call from the 911 Center at 8:54 a.m. Thursday about an explosion with injuries. While en route, firefighters were notified one person was injured.

Eaton employees put out the fire before firefighters arrived at the scene, Kerns said. The burn victim was outside waiting for firefighters to arrive. Firefighters went inside the building to investigate and ensure the fire was out.

The explosion occurred at an electrical switch box inside the facility, Williams said.

"It was a switch box for the piece of equipment they were hooking up, to turn the equipment on and off," Williams said.

When they applied power to turn the machine on, there was a malfunction and the door was blown off the electrical switch box, fire came out of the box and burned the victim, Williams said.

The box was approximately 20 feet up in the air, Kerns said. They were still unsure of the cause of the explosion. Electrical workers were hooking up a piece of machinery and the injured worker was on a lift when the explosion occurred.

The injured worker told firefighters he was flipping the power on when it exploded on him, Kerns said. The worker added that he did not know why it exploded.

After the explosion and fire, the injured worker brought the lift he was on down to the floor and exited the building, Kerns said.

[ Originally published February 25, 2005. ]

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