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Explosion injures 9 at Newmarket auto parts plant

Magna Closures Dortec Industries in Markham Feb 19, 2013.

Moe Doiron/The Globe and Mail

Nine employees were injured at a Newmarket auto parts plant after a small explosion on Wednesday morning. York Regional Police said six of the injured employees were taken to hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, and the other three were treated at the scene.

All six hospitalized workers were released on Wednesday afternoon.

Emergency crews were called to Dortec Industries – a manufacturing division of automotive supplier Magna International Inc., which is based in Aurora, Ont. – near Bayview Avenue and Mulock Drive shortly after 9:30 a.m. In a press release, Magna described the incident as a "minor arc flash explosion," which is a type of electrical explosion.

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Paul Leslie, deputy fire chief of Central York Fire Services, said there was no fire, adding that the blast was "localized to the area of the equipment that was involved."

The Ontario Fire Marshal's office and the Ministry of Labour investigated and 200 employees were evacuated from the plant. The workers were kept out of the building until late in the afternoon, suspending the plant's operations.

Magna said the explosion did not cause any structural damage to the building and affected only one manufacturing line, allowing operations to resume.

Employees at a nearby daycare said they did not hear anything, and that they knew there had been an explosion only after they saw emergency vehicles.

"I don't think it was very loud," said Dan Hilsenteger, owner of Country Garden Montessori Academy down the road from the Dortec plant. "We just noticed there were police cars and all those vehicles out on the street. They didn't want anyone driving into the area until they got everything sorted out."

Dortec manufactures latches and door-locking systems for several of Magna's auto maker customers.

The 190,000-square-foot plant opened in 1985 and employs about 570 people on a Magna campus in Newmarket that includes other factories that make parts for the global giant. Magna posted sales of $30.8-billion (U.S.) last year.

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