NEWBURYPORT - A series of explosions blew a hole in the roof and forced the evacuation of a pharmaceutical chemical company at the city's industrial park this morning but no one was injured, the deputy fire chief said.
The explosions inside PCI Synthesis' on Opportunity Way forced the evacuation of several buildings near the Opportunity Way complex.
Newburyport Fire Department Deputy Chief Stephen Bradbury said when firefighters responded to a fire alarm call around 4:30 a.m. they saw smoke inside the company's manufacturing plant. While firefighters were investigating the smoke, three explosions occurred in a different room.
"(Firefighters) evacuated immediately," Bradbury said.
Once firefighters left the building, another three explosions occurred, ripping a 5-by-8-foot hole in the roof.
A state hazmat team was called to the scene and three adjacent businesses were evacuated. What caused the explosion is still under investigation. A robot is expected to be placed into the area where the explosions took place to determine whether it is safe for firefighters and others to reenter the affected space.
According to PCI Synthesis' website, the drug substance manufacturer's facility is over 75,000 square feet and is equipped with 22 reactors providing more than 20,000 ghallons of total capacity.
In 2015, PCI Sythesis was fined by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for a violation involving 23 people. It was classified as "serious" by the federal safety agency.
According to the company, PCI's Newburyport plant covers 75,000 square feet. The company has a research and development facility at Devens, the former military base straddling the towns of Ayer and Harvard.