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Archive for Friday, July 4, 2003

3 missing after blast at fireworks warehouse

Investigation of Florida explosion continues

July 4, 2003

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— A day after a fireworks explosion killed five people in Florida, a blast in this small town rocked a warehouse full of fireworks, destroying the building with three people inside, authorities said.

The three workers were missing Thursday evening, Kilgore Mayor Joe T. Parker said. At least five people were injured.

"It's pretty bad," he said. "We've got houses in the neighborhood damaged, people out of their houses, and we're still fighting a fire although we've got the explosives contained, we believe."

The blast destroyed the offices of Lamb Entertainment near downtown Kilgore, about 115 miles southeast of Dallas. The company was preparing for 12 fireworks shows today, including one in Kilgore, a spokesman for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said.

"There was a hell of a boom that I wondered if somebody ran into the side of the building. The floors shook and everything," said Jay Pemberton, who works at KTPB radio in Kilgore. "The walls, everything. It just vibrated the heck out of everything."

Marti Mason, an administrative assistant with the Kilgore Police Department, said police evacuated an area around the explosion covering several blocks.

It was not immediately clear what caused the explosion, said Capt. Ken Hartley of the Gregg County Sheriff's Department.

The blast occurred as investigators in the Gulf Coast town of Bonita Springs, Fla., picked through the blackened site where a truck full of fireworks exploded Wednesday, shaking the ground for at least a mile, spewing colorful bursts of flames from the vehicle and scattering debris for 100 yards in every direction.

The explosion occurred as workers unloaded a truck filled with fireworks for the town's Fourth of July celebration. Four died Wednesday and a fifth victim, identified as Ken Kinard of Cocoa Beach, died Thursday at the burn unit at Tampa General Hospital.

There was no early indication of the cause of Wednesday's blast.

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