COLEBROOK, N.H. — About half of a gun and ammunition manufacturing plant in far northern New Hampshire was heavily damaged following a series of explosions that killed two men and hurt another, shook buildings for blocks away and evacuated dozens of homes, the state fire marshal said today.


The MDM Muzzleloader building, located in an industrial park in Colebrook, will be closed “for an extensive period of time,” Fire Marshal Bill Degnan said.


The explosions happened in an area where there was some manufacturing taking place, Degnan said. He said investigators are learning what materials were in use; they were told the plant makes gunpowder.


“We actually have some hazardous materials that we’re dealing with,” Degnan said, adding that crews were trying to make the area safe for investigators. “There’s no need to get anybody else hurt. That’s our first priority today.”


State police, representatives of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration also are at the scene, Degnan said.


Autopsies were scheduled today for the two men in Concord. Their names have not been released. Degnan said investigators are trying to determine whether they worked at the plant.


The explosions Friday afternoon filled the sky with black smoke. Mia West, the town’s public information officer, said firefighters were unable to get close enough because ammunition was still going off more than two hours later.


About 40 nearby homes were evacuated. All residents were allowed to return Friday night, Degnan said.
Colebrook is about 140 miles north of the capital city of Concord and 10 miles from the Canadian border.