Cause of plant explosion remains unknown - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Cause of plant explosion remains unknown

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Photo courtesy: Eric McJunkin (post-explosion) Photo courtesy: Eric McJunkin (post-explosion)
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EUHARLEE, GA (CBS46) -

Georgia Power investigators planned to return to Plant Bowen Friday morning in hopes of determining what caused an explosion. Four people received minor injuries. One man was treated and released from the hospital.

The blast happened late Thursday afternoon about 50 miles northwest of downtown Atlanta. Plant Bowen is located near Cartersville in Bartow County.

Johnny Mitchell has a restaurant about two miles from the power plant.

"It shook the entire building. The whole building just rattled and you felt pressure inside," said Mitchell.

Mitchell certainly wasn't alone, but he is closer than a lot of people he heard from.

He was in his restaurant when the explosion happened and he said he originally thought something fell on his building. When he realized he was in the clear he was pretty sure where the sound came from.

"The first thing I thought of was, 'Oh my God. I hope nothing happened at the plant,'" said Mitchell.

Moments later, he said the ambulances came rushing.

"We had ambulances from three counties coming in and when I saw the ambulance from Rome coming in I thought, 'Oh my God, it's bad.' I was expecting the worst," said Mitchell.

Luckily, the ambulances were just a precaution. Georgia Power said the explosion was major, but with very minor consequences.

"No people were trapped. There were a couple minor injuries and they were treated and are fine, so no danger to anyone," said Mark Williams with Georgia Power.

Mitchell said once news got out there were no serious injuries, it was a huge relief.

A Georgia Power representative said part of the plant was shutting down when the blast, described as "mechanical in nature," occurred in a generator.

As of Friday morning, the entire facility was shut down, but Georgia Power did not anticipate an impact on customers.

"This is one of our bigger plants, but the good thing is, it's not one of our peak demand times of the year, like summer, when we need more generating needs. We have sufficient generating needs right now to cover it," said Williams.

Georgia Power doesn't know what caused the explosion or how long the plant will be down for investigation and repairs, but they do have enough power saved up that it shouldn't be a problem.

It remained unclear how long the facility, which employs 400 full-time workers, would remain closed.

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