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Selmet crane.JPG

Crews use a large crane to make repairs to the room at Selmet Inc. southeast of Albany. An August 14 explosion and fire caused a partial roof collapse. 

John Bauch, an employee who was seriously injured in an Aug. 15 explosion and fire at Selmet Inc. southeast of Albany, remains in critical condition at Legacy Emanuel Medical Center in Portland, a hospital spokeswoman said Wednesday.

Ethan Hawksford of Albany, whose mother is engaged to Bauch, said Bauch sustained burns over 60 percent of his body.

In a social media post, Hawksford called Bauch a “hard worker and a very tough man.”

Originally from New York, Bauch has worked at Selmet for “two or three years,” Hawksford said in a telephone interview.

Hawksford said that away from work, Bauch enjoys working on motorcycles.

“He worked a lot,” Hawksford said. “He means an awful lot to my mom and sister.”

Staff from the Oregon Health and Safety Administration and state Fire Marshal’s Office investigated the explosion and fire, which happened shortly before 8 a.m. Aug. 15, reportedly at a furnace on the campus' west side. 

A spokesman for the state Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Mark Peterson, said the investigation into the explosion is continuing and "will likely continue over the next few months." 

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A half-dozen Tangent firefighters were the first to arrive at the scene on Aug. 15 and were soon joined by about two dozen firefighters from Albany. Linn County Sheriff’s Office deputies controlled traffic in the area.

Summer engineering intern Samuel Anderton said he was on the east side of the campus and both heard and felt the explosion.

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“It rattled my ribs and shook the ground,” he said. “I was on the outside of the building walking back to my desk. I heard the explosion, saw a plume of smoke and saw folks running out of the building.”

Bauch was taken by air ambulance to Portland. Another employee, whose name has not been released, was treated and released from Samaritan Albany General Hospital.

A portion of the building’s roof collapsed during the event. A large crane and several workers have been making repairs in that area of the building this week.

Founded and operated locally for more than 30 years, the company was sold to Blue Point Capital in 2011 and then to Consolidated Precision Products, based in Cleveland, in 2018.

“Selmet is continuing to work with the appropriate authorities to investigate the cause and circumstances of the accident,” said company spokesman Richard Legenza. “The entire CPP family is supporting the employees that were injured.”

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Contact Linn County reporter Alex Paul at 541-812-6114.

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