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TENINO, Thurston County — A 74-year-old man was killed Wednesday morning by an explosion at a fireworks plant. He died awaiting airlift to a regional trauma center, Thurston County sheriff’s spokesman Lt. Greg Elwin said.

Two others hurt in the explosion in an unincorporated area between Tumwater and Tenino were taken to hospitals.

The call for help came just before 10 a.m. Wednesday from Entertainment Fireworks, Elwin said. A small building was destroyed.

The U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the state Department of Labor and Industries are investigating.

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“Right now this appears to be noncriminal and nonintentional — an unfortunate accident,” Elwin said.

The explosion occurred as workers were preparing shells for shipping, but the cause of the explosion is unknown, Ken Julian, Entertainment Fireworks vice president of operations, said in a statement.

“We are a small company where everyone works together — it’s like a family,” Julian said in his statement. “When something like this happens, it is devastating. We have been in business more than 16 years and nothing like this has ever happened as safety is our No.  1 priority, and we pride ourselves on our highly qualified staff.”

More people could have been hurt if the company hadn’t been following regulations that require fireworks transfers to happen away from other buildings and other explosives, Elwin said.

The man who died was a longtime employee of the company, Elwin said.

A 25-year-old man was airlifted to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle with burns and trauma, Elwin said, and a younger man was taken by private vehicle to Providence St. Peter Hospital in Olympia.

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