ASHLAND CITY, Tenn. (WKRN) – State fire marshals are now investigating what caused a major blasting mishap on a hillside behind an Ashland City company.
The blast on an adjacent piece of property behind the Caymas Boats on Highway 12 happened just after 3 p.m.
The blast sent rocks and small boulders hundreds of feet into the air.
Rocks, mud, and debris smashed into the back of the Caymas facility, ripping through walls, punching holes in the roof, and destroying cars.
Three employees suffered minor injuries and treated at the scene.
Facility CEO Earl Bentz told News 2 had the blast happened 45 minutes earlier, the facility would have been packed with up to 300 employees, likely leading to even more injuries or possible deaths.
Bentz said multiple rocks hit the building and that there are at least 20 holes in his roof, which he said is less than two years old.
“It shook the whole building,” Bentz said.
Some of the rocks even punched holes through cinder block walls and at least three vehicles were smashed with rock shrapnel.
When the explosion first happened, many calls to 911 were made in the midst of all the confusion.
“I got people hurt out here, too. I got blood running down their faces where they got hit in the face with rocks,” one caller told 911.
Ashland City police, EMS, and Cheatham County deputies quickly arrived on scene and immediately began assessing the damage, talking to employees who, thankfully, suffered only minor injuries.
Bentz said he was in his office when the explosion happened and claimed there was no warning of the blast.
“I personally received no notice. That’s why I was a little taken aback. They have been doing a little blasting up on the hill where they have given our people some notice and sound the horn,” he said.
According to Bentz, none of the previous explosions were near the magnitude of Wednesday’s blast.
“Nothing like that, somebody might have put a little too much powder in there. I am not sure,” he said.
Bentz showed News 2 a boulder that was almost as big as a basketball and weighed close to 15 pounds.
A coworker brought the rock in a bucket to show News 2.
The coworker said she cleaned up nearly 36 rocks of similar size near the area where she works.
“Had this happened 45 minutes earlier, we would have had nearly 300 people in there who might have taken one of these to the head or their bodies,” Bentz reiterated.
According to the Tennessee Fire Marshal’s Office, Hammons drilling and blasting out of Fayeteville is the company allegedly responsible for the explosive accident.
News 2 called a blaster at the scene today and he declined to comment.
News 2 also called Hammons’ main offices, and the woman who answered said the company had no comment.
The Tennessee Fire Marshal’s office is investigating the explosion.