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Explosion causes serious damage at Ariel Sands

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An explosion that tore through an Ariel Sands, Devonshire apartment last night broke doors, shattered windows and showered debris for hundreds of feet.

No serious injuries were reported, and no fire could be seen, but at least one resident was being treated for shock.

The blast, which neighbours said appeared to have been caused by residential gas tanks, demolished the apartment, hurling pieces of stone and glass across the South Shore condominium complex.

Tremors from the 6.20pm explosion were felt by residents a mile west in Paget.

A neighbour told The Royal Gazette that a female occupant of the home had emerged from the scene screaming from shock, but appeared unhurt.

Visiting relatives inside his home had initially taken the blast as “either a hit by lightning or a bomb”.

“I think they were propane tank cylinders,” the resident said. “Apparently someone on Brighton Hill saw a tank go 100ft up in the air.”

He added: “I was in the vicinity — it sounded like lightning had struck the house. I got up here saw the woman's house had exploded.”

His own home was peppered with rafters and fragments of masonry.

Windows were blown out, and the house's cedar front door had been smashed in on itself by the force of the blast.

“I ran inside to see my family — my stepfather was very shaken. I didn't know what to do; I was in complete shock.”

Residents heading out to hotel rooms wheeled their luggage over rubble, and broken safety glass covered the driveway, as fire services workers assessed the damage.

“This is a catastrophic explosion just for a house,” one firefighter observed. “It looks like a hurricane hit.”

Michael Friensenbruch from insurers Freisenbruch-Meyer arrived for an initial walk through the debris zone. He said a detailed assessment would have to wait until the morning.

The blast knocked down sections of the roadside fence leading to Ariel Sands. A chunk of roofing landed about 30ft from South Road, and pebbles rained down on the main road.

The worst was confined to the centre of the housing complex, where rafters, chunks of polystyrene insulation and hunks of stone littered the area.

“It's lucky nobody was hurt,” said a resident about 100ft from the explosion, whose front windows had been broken.

He said he'd assisted the stunned resident of the house into an ambulance, adding: “She seemed OK.”

A police spokesman said the damage to surrounding homes ranked as “serious”, and a Lieutenant Leonard Davis of the fire services said officers had arrived ten minutes after first calls to find “a building with a substantial amount of damage”.

Entire walls appeared to be missing from the gutted home.

Asked about reports that the damage had been caused by gas cylinders, Lt Davis said the cause was still being determined as crews searched through the damage.

The explosion occurred in a housing complex just north of the site of the disused former Ariel Sands Hotel.

Wrecked: A firefighter walks through debris following an explosion at an Ariel Sands residence last night. (Photo by Akil Simmons)
Wrecked: Debris lies everywhere following an explosion at an Ariel Sands residence last night. (Photo by Akil Simmons)
Wrecked: Debris lies everywhere following an explosion at an Ariel Sands residence last night. (Photo by Akil Simmons)
Debris zone: Police officers walk through debris on the road after an explosion ripped through an Ariel Sands apartment last night (Photo by Akil Simmons)

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Published October 17, 2013 at 9:00 am (Updated October 17, 2013 at 12:51 am)

Explosion causes serious damage at Ariel Sands

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