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Explosion, Fire at Ford Motor Plant

February 1, 1999

DEARBORN, Mich. (AP) _ An explosion and fire rocked a generating station for a huge Ford Motor Co. plant today, seriously injuring an undetermined number of workers.

Numerous ambulances were called to the Ford Rouge plant in the Rouge River area just after 1 p.m.

Nearby Oakwood Hospital was expecting at least 10 people with ``Priority One″ injuries, which is the most severe injury designation, a spokeswoman told WDIV television. University of Michigan Hospital spokeswoman Carol Craig said its survival flight was on the way to scene.

``We don’t have a head count yet. We are expecting some patients for our burns unit,″ she said.

About a dozen ambulances lined the streets around the burning building, as heavy gray smoke billowed from the windows.

``All we know is there’s been an incident at the Number Three boiler at the power house at the Ford Rouge complex,″ Ford spokeswoman Francine MacBride said. ``Fire has been dispatched, but they haven’t told us updates.″

The power house generates electricity for the entire complex.

A dispatcher at the Dearborn police department said he could not release any information.

The 1,100-acre Rouge facility was once the world’s largest auto plant. Henry Ford built the plant in 1918 because he dreamed of building a car from start to finish in one location.

At its peak in the 1940s, 85,000 people worked at the plant in Dearborn, about 7 miles west of Detroit. About 8,000 people work at the six Ford factories still in operation at the Rouge, and Ford builds the Mustang there.

The complex has acres of vacant space, but remains Ford’s largest concentration of employees and factories, and houses several suppliers as well.

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