3 injured following explosion at auto salvage business - KCTV5

3 injured following explosion at auto salvage business

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The investigation continues at the Seven Highway Auto Salvage just outside of Fontana. Fire officials are sifting through what's left of the shop after an explosion ripped through the building Wednesday afternoon.

"Next thing I know there was an explosion and it threw me five feet forward," said Daniel West, an employee at the shop.

West was working when the blast hit. Six people were in the building: four employees, the owner and a customer. Three people were sent to the hospital.

"There were 10-15 foot flames," said West.

West drove his friend Kerry Sicks to the University of Kansas Hospital. West said Sicks had burns to about 70 percent of his body, but was conscious and able to talk after the explosion. He is in critical condition. The two other people hurt were treated at a hospital and released.

Miami County Undersheriff Wayne Minckley said the blast was reported in the mechanic shop at West 391st Street and Lonestar Road in Fontana. The town is about 50 miles southwest of Kansas City in Miami County.

People who know the area said, before the explosion, they could see the auto salvage building from U.S. Highway 7, but now all that's visible is smoke.

Minckley said there were some small explosions when officers and rescue workers arrived on the scene. The entire building went up in flames.

"It was a little bit difficult because of the size of the building, the nature of the contents being a salvage yard, a lot of flammables that don't go out easily," said Chief DuWayne Tewes of the Osawatomie-Fontana Fire Department.

KCTV5's Heather Staggers spoke with one employee who was inside the auto salvage when the explosion happened. He said he doesn't know what sparked it, but one employee was using what he called a chop saw when he let go of the trigger on the handle and the building exploded.

"It's a bad thing when you've been friends with someone for 15 years and you pretty much see this happening to them because he was a ball of flames, and I tried to help put him out. He rolled on the ground, we got him to a water hose and I took him to my truck and we got him to the hospital," West said of his account of helping a friend and co-worker after the explosion.

Fire crews worked much of the afternoon to put out the fire. Tewes said as of Wednesday evening they had not found any explosive chemicals in the shop.

This ongoing joint investigation is being handled by the Osawatamie-Fontana fire department, Kansas Fire Marshal, and the Miami County Sheriff's Department. They have yet to release their finding as to the possible cause of the explosion.

KCTV5's Alan Shope spoke to family members of Sicks, the man critically injured. He suffered burns over almost two-thirds of his body and will be hospitalized for weeks. He was working on the chop saw when the explosion occurred.

Copyright 2011 KCTV. All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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