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Thursday, June 24, 2004 - Page updated at 12:45 A.M.

Explosion at Shelton sawmill injures five

The Associated Press

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SHELTON, Mason County — An air compressor explosion at a Simpson Timber Co. sawmill blew out a wall and injured five people this morning, a company spokeswoman said.

All five were initially taken to Mason General Hospital in Shelton, said hospital spokeswoman Shelly Dunnington.

One was then flown to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, the region's only major trauma center, said a police dispatcher, and two more were expected to be transferred there.

Dunnington said she could not release information about the nature of the injuries, but Simpson spokeswoman Bev Holland said all five were able to walk out of the mill to waiting ambulances.

The air compressor was at the back end of the sawmill, where the company produces lumber for home construction, Holland said. There had been no previous problems with the machinery.

Duane Wilson, manager of a lumber and hardware store about 500 yards from the mill, said he felt a blast and a rumble, saw steam and then heard sirens.

"It shook our whole building," Wilson told The Associated Press. "I thought it was the start of an earthquake, and I thought it was way farther away. ... It wasn't a loud boom - big concussion, though. You could really feel that.

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