Several dead after gas station explosion

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Map highlighting Raleigh County West Virginia.

Reports say that 4 people, including a paramedic and a retired firefighter have been killed after a gas station near Ghent, West Virginia in Raleigh County blew up. At least 9 others have been critically injured.

The explosion occurred at 10:50 a.m. [EST] at the Flat Top Little General Store, and fire officials say that the cause may have been from a nearby propane tank that was leaking. The gas station was completely wiped out. Officials say that a full investigation will be launched to determine exactly what caused the blast.

The company that stocks the tank with gas had sent out a representative, who officials believe was killed in the explosion.

Fire and rescue squads are continuing to search for victims.

Witnesses say that the explosion could be felt as far as 1 mile away. Ben Monast, who owns a ski shop about a mile away from the scene, said that he "thought we got struck by lightning. The whole building shook and the power went off."

An elementary school that is close to the scene was not damaged, but students were kept inside for safety purposes.