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Local News in Brief : Garden Grove : 2 Hurt, 300 Evacuated in Chemical Explosion

Two workmen suffered minor injuries in a chemical explosion at an airplane parts manufacturing plant Friday that forced the evacuation of 300 employees, authorities said.

The explosion occurred at 12:52 p.m. in the rear of Air Industries Corp. in the 12500 block of Knott Avenue, Garden Grove, Fire Department officials said. Employees at the plant and in the surrounding businesses were evacuated immediately. Firefighters said it was not necessary to evacuate residents living across the street or students at nearby Pacifica High School.

The explosion occurred when two workers added what they believed to be bleach to another drum of bleach. However, they were actually adding acid to the bleach, and the explosion resulted, Garden Grove Fire Capt. Bill Dumas said.

“The explosion was in a chain-linked area, and the chemical leaked into a diked area, where it was contained,” Fire Capt. Cameron Phillips said. A chlorine-type odor was detected, he said, but the high school was not in the affected area.”

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Investigators were still trying Friday night to determine the exact type of chemicals involved in the explosion, Dumas said.

Phillips said the two men who mixed the materials were taken to Humana Hospital Westminster after complaining of ear pains. A hospital spokeswoman said both were treated for minor injuries and released.

“We heard a large explosion in the rear and we went back there and a couple of boys were plugging their ear drums up a little bit,” said Pat Shierden, a foreman at the plant.”

Hazardous materials specialists from both the Anaheim and Orange County fire departments were called to the scene. Police barricades were set up for several hours to divert traffic from Knott Avenue at Lampson Avenue and Garden Grove Boulevard, causing traffic jams throughout the area.

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