published Wednesday, June 18th, 2014

1 dead, 2 hurt in Washington fireworks explosion

A helicopter takes off after an explosion at the Entertainment Fireworks plant on Wednesday, June 18, 2014, in Tenino, Wash. Thurston County sheriff's spokesman Lt. Greg Elwin told The Seattle Times that a man died before being taken to the hospital, and the two others who were hurt in the explosion have been taken to hospitals.
A helicopter takes off after an explosion at the Entertainment Fireworks plant on Wednesday, June 18, 2014, in Tenino, Wash. Thurston County sheriff's spokesman Lt. Greg Elwin told The Seattle Times that a man died before being taken to the hospital, and the two others who were hurt in the explosion have been taken to hospitals.
Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

TENINO, Wash. — A 74-year-old man injured in an explosion Wednesday morning at a fireworks plant in Washington state died at the scene from his injuries.

The man died while awaiting an airlift to a regional trauma center, Thurston County sheriff's spokesman Lt. Greg Elwin said. Two others were hurt in the explosion in unincorporated Thurston County south of Olympia, between Tumwater and Tenino, and have been taken to hospitals.

The call for help came just before 10 a.m. Wednesday from Entertainment Fireworks, Elwin said. A small building at the facility was destroyed by the fire.

Representatives from the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and the state Department of Labor and Industries are investigating.

"Right now this appears to be non-criminal and non-intentional — an unfortunate accident related to this type of business," Elwin said.

The explosion happened while a truck was being loaded with fireworks to be taken to a show, he said. Something unknown ignited a firework and started a fire and explosion, Elwin said.

More people could have been hurt and more buildings damaged if the company hadn't been following regulations that require fireworks transfers to happen away from other buildings and other explosives, he said.

The man who died was a long-time employee of the company, Elwin said.

A 25-year-old man was airlifted to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle with burns and trauma, Elwin said. A younger man was taken by private vehicle to Providence St. Peter Hospital in Olympia, he said.

Mark Rorvic, 54, who lives across the street, told The Olympian that he awoke to the sound of the explosions.

"All of a sudden, all hell broke loose, and it was boom, boom, boom, boom," he said. "Horrific — it's the only way I could say it."

Rorvic said he used to work for the fireworks company, which puts on professional shows.

A call to Entertainment Fireworks was answered by someone who said they had no comment at this time. On its website, Entertainment Fireworks says it's the largest fireworks company based in Washington. It puts on fireworks displays and distributes fireworks.

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