Explosion reported at south Arkansas plant; injured person airlifted to area hospital, officials say

At least one person was injured and airlifted to an area hospital after an explosion at an aerospace and defense plant in Calhoun County, officials said.

The explosion occurred at an Esterline Defense Technologies facility, Camden Fire Department Chief Robert Medford said. The plant is part of the Highland Industrial Park on Arkansas 274, near several other defense and aerospace manufacturers.

One person who was injured was airlifted to an area hospital, officials said. According to an Esterline employee, everyone at the plant was accounted for after the explosion, which took place around 9:30 a.m.

Dan Noble, spokesman for the state Department of Emergency Management, said campus security at the plant reported that the situation was under control.

The Camden Fire Department was not called to the scene of the explosion, Medford said. According to the fire chief, the department has an agreement with Esterline but was told that the explosion was contained.

In 2016, another explosion occurred at the Esterline plant, seriously injuring two people.

A truck from the Camden Fire Department was sent to that explosion and was there for "quite some time," Medford said.

Noble at one point said Tuesday's explosion took place at an Aerojet Rocketdyne facility, which shares a gate with the Esterline facility, but an Esterline employee confirmed the blaze occurred at their plant.

Bill Bigelow, spokesman for Aerojet Rocketdyne, said the plants are in the industrial park along with several other manufacturers, and that the various facilities are often confused with one another.

"To the uninitiated it would appear as if it's all the same facility," he said. According to Bigelow, no employees at the Aerojet plant were injured.

"Our thoughts are with our neighbors at Esterline, and we remain ready to assist them as needed," Bigelow said.

Read Wednesday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full details.