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N.C. no stranger to industrial blasts

The Carolinas have not experienced the widespread type of damage that took place Wednesday evening at the fertilizer plant explosion in central Texas, but North Carolina is not a stranger to industrial disasters.

More than 80 people have been killed in at least four accidents in the past century in the state, records show.

The incident most similar to the Texas blast Wednesday night was a little more than a decade ago in Kinston. On Jan. 29, 2003, a blast destroyed the West Pharmaceuticals building in the Lenoir County city.

The explosion, which was thought to have been caused by industrial dust at the plant, which produced medical syringes, shattered windows a quarter-mile away. Six people were killed and 39 injured, and a fire burned at the plant for two days.

The blast blew debris 2 miles away and started fires in wooded areas nearby.

Another and more deadly explosion took place 88 years ago in Chatham County, about 35 miles southwest of Raleigh and 110 miles northeast of Charlotte.

On May 27, 1925, a series of three blasts killed 53 miners at the Coal Glen Mine in Oakland Township. Most of the miners were 800 feet below the surface and survived the first explosion, but two subsequent blasts proved deadly.

The last of the bodies was removed from the coal mine four days later, shortly before water filled the area of the disaster.

More recently, an explosion at the ConAgra plant in Garner, near Raleigh, killed two people and injured more than 50 on June 9, 2009. That explosion also triggered an ammonia leak and forced evacuations of some residents.

There was no explosion at the poultry plant in the Richmond County town of Hamlet on Sept. 3, 1991, but a flash fire killed 25 employees and injured 55 more. Many of the victims were trapped behind locked fire doors at the plant.

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