GREAT BEND, Kan. (KSNW) — Emergency crews responded to an explosion in Great Bend early Wednesday morning.
It happened just after 3 a.m. in the 700 block of 10th Street at a home near the Baltzell Lodge Motel.
KSN’s Skyview camera and viewers catch the explosion on video. Watch Below!
According to the Great Bend Fire Department, upon arrival, crews found a large debris field and fire. Firefighters performed a search and located one victim.
Police said in an interview with Great Bend’s KVBG radio that the victim was a man who was transported to the hospital in critical condition.
Crews were able to extinguish the fire quickly.
“The building that the explosion happened in was an apartment building that the hotel rented out,” Great Bend Deputy Fire Chief Brent Smith said.
Cause under investigation
The state fire marshal’s office is leading the investigation, according to Smith.
“At this time, it is still listed as undetermined. We’re pending some results on some tests, which we’re hoping to get back soon, and then we’ll be able to make a determination then,” said Smith.
Kansas Gas Service crews were also at the scene.
“Anytime there is an explosion, we have got to rule out any possible cause. Of course, natural gas being one of the causes, and that is why they are here. They are the experts in that field. We rely on them to come in and do that testing for us,” Smith said.
Nearby buildings are also being inspected, as some suffered damage due to the explosion. The damage included broken windows and siding due to scattered debris.
“The building to the east sustained significant damage. They have a structural engineer coming to look at that. They won’t be going in that building until the engineer does his testing,” Smith said. “Air Gas across the street suffered damage, the motel suffered damage. We have a crew inside the office of the hotel to determine if it is habitable or not.”
Meanwhile, traffic has been reduced on the east side of U.S. Highway 56 in Great Bend.
“We just ask you to drive careful, be slow, try not to lollygag through the area and cause a wreck or something,” Smith said.
The Kansas Bureau of Investigation was at the scene but will not have any official involvement.
KSN News reporter Malley Jones spoke with many members of the community, and nearly everyone said they were awoken by a loud boom and the shake of the explosion, not knowing what was going on.
“I was watching a movie on my phone, and all of a sudden, the whole car just starts shaking, and then hear this big boom boom,” said Isiah Hillgern and Alexander Brown, who felt and heard the explosion.
People in Great Bend and Ellinwood say they heard and felt it.
“I heard a huge explosion, so when I looked up, I could see that the whole sky over there above 10th Street had lit up, and the ground shook, and we heard so many ambulances and firefighters and stuff flying down 10th Street,” said Hillgern and Brown.
“I actually live in Ellinwood, nine miles from here, and it was noted in Ellinwood. You could feel it and hear it,” said Smith.