Two workers were taken to the hospital on Thursday afternoon after an industrial oven exploded at the ABB plant in Bland.

Bland County Volunteer Fire Department Chief Jeff Dunn said crews were called to the plant at approximately 2:30 p.m. after an oven used to bake an insulating varnish on transformers exploded and caught on fire.

“It must have been a pretty good boom,” he said, noting that neighbors around the plant reported hearing and feeling it.

Two as-yet-unidentified workers near the oven were taken by ambulance to Wythe County Community Hospital.

Dunn said one was back at the plant on Thursday before fire crews left, but that the other one was apparently transferred to Wake Forest Baptist Health in North Carolina.

Using foam and water, volunteers were able to quickly extinguish the blaze, and stayed at the plant until about 7 p.m. on Thursday. Most of the fire damage was contained to the oven area, he said.

Dunn didn’t know what caused the fire.

The plant apparently reopened on Friday and ABB’s human resources department referred questions to a corporate spokesperson in North Carolina.

On Monday, an ABB spokesman offered the following statement: “A fire incident occurred on Thursday, November 29 at our facility in Bland, Virginia. The fire service was contacted and it was efficiently extinguished. Three employees were treated for injuries and continue to receive our full support.  An investigation of the root cause has been initiated. Production and operations at the plant are unaffected.”

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