Investigators Seek Spark of Explosion

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

GHENT, W.Va. (AP) - Fire officials continue to sift through debris in Raleigh County in an effort to pinpoint the origin of a fatal propane gas explosion that leveled a convenience store in Ghent.

Four people -- including a volunteer firefighter and a building inspector -- died in Tuesday's blast at the Flat Top Little General store. Another five were seriously injured. Four of those are in critical condition Wednesday morning. The condition of the fifth is not available.

A spokeswoman for the state Fire Marshal's office says the investigation is going to be a slow process due to the severe amount of damage.

O'Brien says it's sometimes impossible to determine the cause of explosions like this because so many ignition sources need to be eliminated.

Fire Marshal Sterling Lewis says firefighters and paramedics were responding to a report of a propane gas leak when gas trapped in the convenience store somehow ignited.

Lewis said an above ground tank capable of holding 500 pounds of propane was being worked on by Little General employees at the time. The propane tank and the store's underground gasoline tanks did not explode.

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