Explosion, Fire Demolishes Block, Injures At Least Two
MONROE, N.C. (AP) _ An explosion and fire demolished a block of buildings in Monroe on Saturday night, injuring at least two passers-by and shattering storefront windows along Main Street.
The cause of the explosion was not immediately known, but fire officials said they suspected a gas leak was to blame.
The explosion at around 10:30 p.m. leveled a building that housed a bicycle shop and a clothing store and set fire to about seven adjoining buildings along Main Street, authorities said. It was followed by a series of smaller blasts.
″We have a whole block that’s gone,″ said Kathy Phifer, an emergency dispatcher for the town, which is situated about 25 miles southeast of Charlotte.
A Charlotte television station, WSOC-TV, reported that the blast was heard several miles away.
About 100 firefighters from across Union County fought the fires, which were contained within 2 1/2 hours, Ms. Phifer said.
Two people who were walking nearby suffered minor cuts and were listed in satisfactory condition at Union Memorial Hospital, said nursing supervisor Nancy Sarno. Several other people at the scene were administered first aid for minor injuries, she said.
Shop owners rushed downtown when they heard of the explosion.
″I don’t think there’s a window left in town on Main Street,″ said Butch Tucker, who owns a jewelry shop across from where the explosion occurred.