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Eighteen Injured in Explosion at Resort Hotel

February 15, 1991

OSAGE BEACH, Mo. (AP) _ An explosion shattered windows and walls and started a fire at a resort hotel, injuring 18 people, three seriously, authorities said.

About 600 people were attending a highway engineers conference at Lodge of the Four Seasons, a resort area on Lake of the Ozarks, when the blast occurred Thursday night. The cause hasn’t been determined, an official said.

Rob Lauer, an engineer with the Missouri Highway and Transportation Department, said he and several friends had returned from dinner and had gone into the hotel bar when ″there was a very loud explosion and it instantly blew out the glass doors and windows.″

He said he saw a fireball in the upper level of the hotel’s atrium as they fled from the bar and ″we got out as fast as we could.″

The injured were on three floors on the same side of the building and most of them suffered from burns, smoke inhalation and lacerations from flying glass, said the department’s chief engineer, Wayne Muri.

″Given the extent of the damage, we were extremely lucky,″ Muri said.

Eighteen victims were taken to Lake Ozark General Hospital, hospital spokeswoman Vanessa Cantwell said. Three people were admitted in stable condition and 12 were treated for injuries and released, she said.

One critically injured victim and another in serious condition were flown to a hospital in Columbia; a second seriously injured person was flown to a hospital in Springfield.

The explosion happened shortly after 11 p.m. The fire that resulted was put out about two hours later, said Paul Corl, a State Highway Patrol trooper. He did not know what caused the explosion.

Osage Beach is in central Missouri, about 140 miles west-southwest of St. Louis.