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Fire officials investigating explosion at Plainview business

Published: Feb. 13, 2015 at 3:03 PM CST|Updated: Aug. 14, 2015 at 2:03 PM CDT
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Provided by the Plainview Herald

An early-morning explosion on Friday knocked a front window out at Vick's Cleaners, 2401 W. Fifth, but nobody was injured and damage appeared minor.

Emergency personnel were called to the scene about 7:45 a.m. Friday following a blast in the rear of the structure. A half-hour after the blast, fire department officials were still trying to determine its cause, although one employee speculated that it might have originated within a clothes dryer.

Ten employees were in the building at the time of the blast, and all were uninjured and able to quickly evacuate. Apparently no customers were inside when the blast occurred.

"It was like a loud boom," one employee commented as she stood shivering outside while wearing a uniform jacket that belonged to Police Chief Ken Coughlin. "The blast knocked the pictures off the wall in the front of the building, and one of the girls in back screamed when the light fixture came down right beside her." She said no one was hurt, "just scared." While the blast occurred at the rear of the structure, several commented that the resulting noise seemed to be louder in the front of the building.

Another employee said two articles of clothing caught fire when the blast occurred, but they were quickly extinguished.

While the natural gas supply was cut off to the building following the explosion, that was done apparently as a precaution. It was not immediately clear if either natural gas or solvents used in the dry cleaning and laundering process might have had a role in the incident.

No structural damage was apparent from the outside of the building.

The sound of the loud explosion could be heard at least a block away said to one employee, who got that report from the owner of a glass company as he was seeking their services to replace a window destroyed in the blast. "They said it was really loud inside their building," he reported.

Despite emergency vehicles and first responders surrounding the building in the minutes after the explosion, customers continued to drop off clothing to be cleaned. Several were seen stepping over broken glass and entering the evacuated building to leave dirty laundry on the counter.

The store's neon "Open" sign remained on Friday morning, although the plate glass window in front of it had been blown out.

Owner Chad Williams was en route to the business from his home in Lubbock on Friday morning and not immediately available for comment.