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Explosion Collapses Part of Ga. Motel Roof

June 27, 2006

BREMEN, Ga. (AP) _ A two-story motel partially collapsed after an explosion Tuesday, and a maintenance worker was feared trapped in the rubble, authorities said.

Investigators said it appeared to have been a gas explosion that rattled the 73-room Quality Inn & Suites shortly before 9 a.m., collapsing the roof over a corner of rooms and dumping debris on cars parked below.

Bremen Fire Chief Clark Farr said six to eight rooms were destroyed and the damage was centered around a laundry-maintenance room.

Most of the motel’s occupants had checked out by then, and only three or four people were inside at the time of the blast, said Bremen Police Capt. Richard Harrison. He said all of the motel’s guests were accounted for, but a motel maintenance worker was missing and feared to be trapped in the collapsed corner of the building.

``I was scared to death,″ said Maria Eskew, 39, of Carrollton. She had been trying to catch up on some sleep in a first-floor room when she heard the blast.

``I knew something was wrong because the lights went out and the power went off. I went to the window and all I saw was debris and smoke. ... It felt like it was on my floor. It was right above me,″ she said.

The explosion could be heard at least two miles up the road at a Holiday Inn Express, said front desk clerk Lacey Bryant. She said white smoke was still drifting past her motel more than two hours later.

Georgia Insurance and Safety Fire Commission John Oxendine said the cause of the explosion was under investigation. The motel is near Interstate 20 and about 10 miles east of the Alabama border.

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Associated Press Reporters Harry R. Weber and Jonathan Landrum Jr. in Atlanta contributed to this report.

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