Authorities are investigating after a worker died Monday following a blast at a Shawnee business.
The explosion occurred just before 9:30 a.m. at Rieke Grading, which is located in the 8200 block of Hedge Lane Terrace.
When deputies arrived, they found a man deceased at the scene. The victim was Nicholas Jerde, 23, of Kansas City.
An initial investigation indicated the man was using an acetylene torch to free a valve on a vacuum truck.
Shawnee Fire Marshal Corey Sands said there might have been vapor inside the truck that ignited.
"Our crews arrived and found evidence of an explosion in the back of the building," Sands said.
The doors in the back of the building were knocked off.
The company, according to its website, specializes in commercial and residential excavation and tree removal, block and rock retaining walls and environmental remediation.
"It's a very unfortunate accident," Sands said. "This is a small company so they're all like family and feel like they've lost one of their family members."
Shawnee police, the Johnson County Crime Lab and members of the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration are investigating the accident.
The force of the blast rattled nearby businesses.
Janette Williams, who works nearby, said she heard a loud boom.
"I was like, 'Uh oh,'" she said. "We thought it might have been a sonic boom."
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