HOMERVILLE (AP) — An explosion and fire that destroyed a coffee shop here Friday seriously injuring three people was caused by a utility crew that accidentally ruptured a gas line, said a state official.
The blast rocked Homerville shortly after noon.
Investigators determined a construction crew installing fiber optic cable had ruptured an underground gas line, causing natural gas to leak into a sewer line connected to the coffee shop, said Glenn Allen, spokesman for Georgia Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner Ralph Hudgens.
“Inside the shop gas built up in the kitchen area and there was a spark, resulting in the explosion,” Allen said.
Allen said the explosion and a resulting fire destroyed the small, single-story building that housed Coffee Corner. A photograph taken by an investigator at the scene showed the building’s roof had partially collapsed. Brick walls were blasted apart, with bricks scattered in the parking lot and piled atop two cars parked beside the shop.
Two employees and a customer were the only people inside the coffee shop when it exploded, Allen said. They were airlifted to a hospital in Gainesville, Florida, with “burns and other serious injuries,” he said. An update of their conditions was not available this morning.
A reporter Friday said the injuries appeared to be non-life-threatening.
Investigators initially reported all three of the injured worked at the shop, Allen said, but later learned they were mistaken.