Fire officials say an explosion and fire tore through the Neapco Manufacturing Company in Beatrice late Saturday night.
Beatrice Fire Captain Jake Carrel (CARE-uhl) says from the damage, it appears the explosion preceded the fire.
“What appeared to have been a fairly significant explosion of a large industrial air compressor did actually blow out a few framed walls,” Captain Carrel says. “The fire, fortunately, was contained with the sprinkler system to an area in the northwest corner of the building.”
A Neapco official maintains there was no explosion, but rather a fire in the contained air compressor. About 20 workers were on duty at the time of the incident and they’d evacuated the building when fire trucks rolled up.
“There were a few workers in the area and on arrival, we were told they had one unaccounted-for employee that we certainly made a priority to find and that person was located,” he says. No one was reported hurt.
Half of the employees were sent home, because of smoke and the lack of air handling in that part of the plant where they worked. There’s no dollar estimate of the damage from the incident.
“There was a failure in the system somewhere with that air compressor,” he says. “A radiator that cools oil had failed which led to the oil becoming extremely hot.”
The plant, which makes automotive parts, was back at full operation early Sunday.
Doug Kennedy, KWBE, Beatrice