Two people were severely burned in an explosion at the U.S. Army's primary missile research installation in northern Alabama Wednesday, military officials and paramedics reported.
The blast happened at 8:45 a.m. (9:45 a.m. ET) at a military test area at Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, said Jeanna Rightmeier, an Army spokeswoman. There were no fatalities reported, but two people suffered third-degree burns over more than 80 percent of their bodies, said Kenneth Burke, a field supervisor with Huntsville Emergency Medical Services, Inc.
The victims were flown to the University of Alabama at Birmingham's medical center for treatment, Burke said.
Redstone Arsenal has been the center of the Army's missile and rocket programs since the 1950s, when it became the home for the contingent of German rocket scientists who surrendered to American forces at the end of World War II. Their research was instrumental to the development of the U.S. space program in the late 1950s and early 1960s.
Civilian rocket research was moved to NASA's neighboring Marshall Space Flight Center in 1960. Redstone Arsenal now concentrates on the development of military weapons systems ranging from short-range rockets to ballistic missile defense systems.
- CNN's Aaron Cooper contributed to this report.