STRONG — A 1:30 a.m. blast in a drying machine at a wood pellet manufacturing plant Saturday rocked the area for three-quarters of a mile.

“Even the emergency dispatcher said they heard it, before the calls started coming in,” said Strong Fire Chief Scott Dyar.

He said three employees were in the building at the time of the explosion and another was outside. No injuries were reported, however.

“There was no fire by the time we arrived, just the damage from the blast,” Dyar said. “I can’t say for sure that the building’s destroyed, but the owners are having structural engineers in to look at it and determine just what can be done.”

The blast occurred in the former Forster Manufacturing toothpick mill. The building was taken over by Geneva Energies LLC in 2008. Geneva is an Illinois-based investment group.

Dyar said state fire marshals were on hand and were investigating the blast. They had not determined a cause as of Saturday.

“What we know is where it started — in the dryer,” Dyar said. “What is uncertain and remains uncertain is the cause.”

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Large windows, shattered glass, and boards littered the ground outside the wood pellet plant in Strong on Saturday afternoon after an early morning explosion ripped through the interior.

Shattered windows and frames littered the ground outside the Geneva Energies LLC wood pellet plant in Strong on Saturday afternoon following an early morning explosion that ripped through the building causing extensive damage.

This large section of wall at the Geneva Energies LLC wood pellet plant in Strong was shoved out by the force of a massive blast early Saturday morning.

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