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Firefighter killed in Danish fireworks factory explosion

"It looks like a moon landscape, this looks worse than the many war zones I have seen."
Danish Defense Minister Soeren Gade


November 5, 2004

Copenhagen A massive blaze at a fireworks factory in western Denmark, left a 33-year-old firefighter dead and destroyed at least 20 homes.

Hundreds of firefighters fought the huge blaze at the N.P. Johnsens fireworks factory in western Denmark, 125 miles from the Danish capital.

The blaze was believed to have started when two containers of fireworks were being loaded onto a truck, police said. It quickly spread to a nearby building and led to a chain reaction of explosions. It was unclear what caused the containers to combust.

One of the explosions was the equivalent of a magnitude-2 earthquake, according to the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland.

"It looks like a moon landscape, this looks worse than the many war zones I have seen," said Danish Defense Minister Soeren Gade during a visit to the site.

The blackened landscape was littered with debris, gutted cars and damaged houses.

As many as 350 buildings, including homes and businesses, were damaged. Over 2,000 nearby residents were evacuated by authorities as the fire raged. Police estimated that it might take several days before residents will be allowed to return to their homes.

In addition to the firefighter that was killed, 17 people, including firemen, rescue workers and police officers were treated for minor burns and smoke inhalation, authorities said.

The plant has a license to store 330 tons of fireworks, but police said that as much as 2,200 tons were stockpiled.

Firefighters, police investigators and army explosives experts continue to survey the area. The cause of the fire has not been determined, authorities said.

 

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