Explosion reported at Beechcraft plant in east Wichita

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WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Fifteen people were injured Friday when a nitrogen line exploded at the Beechcraft aircraft manufacturing facility causing part of the building to collapse, authorities say.

Daniel Wegner, deputy fire chief for Sedgwick County, said the explosion happened at around 8 a.m. at the facility. John Gallagher, the county’s EMS director, said 11 people were taken to hospitals and four were treated at the scene. No one was killed, but one person has potentially serious injuries, he said.

Wegner said the explosion happened when a 3-inch liquid nitrogen line ruptured. The rupture was contained, but gas continued to vent, although it posed no risk to nearby residents, officials said.

“The plant closed or shut down for the holiday season so the numbers that would have been here, were not, so it was a skeleton crew,” Wegner said.

Wegner said crews are doing building assessments and looking at the structural integrity of the surrounding structures that could have been impacted.

Stephanie Harder, a spokeswoman for Beechcraft’s parent company, Textron Aviation, said the structure where the explosion happened is part of a complex of buildings and houses the business’ composite manufacturing and experimental aircraft or Plant 3.

“Difficult day. Difficult news and our primary responsibility right now is to our employees and to those impacted by this, so that’s where we are going to focus,” she said.

Webb Road is closed between Central and Kellogg. The cause of the blast is under investigation.

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