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Three Missing in Tex. Fireworks Explosion

July 4, 2003

KILGORE, Texas (AP) _ An explosion rocked a warehouse full of fireworks in this small Texas town Thursday, destroying the building with three people inside, authorities said.

The three workers were missing Thursday evening, Kilgore Mayor Joe T. Parker said. At least five people were injured.

``It’s pretty bad,″ he said. ``We’ve got houses in the neighborhood damaged, people out of their houses, and we’re still fighting a fire although we’ve got the explosives contained, we believe.″

The blast destroyed the offices of Lamb Entertainment near downtown Kilgore, a small town about 115 miles southeast of Dallas. The company was preparing for a fireworks show in Kilgore on Friday.

``There was a hell of a boom that I wondered if somebody ran into the side of the building. The floors shook and everything,″ said Jay Pemberton, who works at KTPB radio in Kilgore. ``The walls, everything. It just vibrated the heck out of everything.″

``It was bad, people were all running scared. This is a small town. This never happens here,″ said Justin Singh, owner of a convenience store a half mile away from the warehouse.

Marti Mason, an administrative assistant with the Kilgore Police Department, said police evacuated an area around the explosion covering several blocks.

Bob Ellzey, chief executive officer of Laird Memorial Hospital in Kilgore, said the five injuries were minor, mostly cuts and scrapes. But he said the full extent of injuries was not yet known.

``Emergency workers are combing the area, but we’ve not gotten any assessment of any injuries out there, so we’re kind of in a waiting mode right now.″

The blast came a day after a truck loaded with fireworks exploded into flames in a Florida town on the Gulf Coast, killing five people and injuring one.

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