Authorities investigate explosions, fire at Douglasville propane facility

- Firefighters believe a fire and subsequent explosions at a propane facility in Douglasville were likely caused by a delivery truck on the site.

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It happened around 8:40 p.m. Thursday at the Blossman Propane facility located near U.S. 78 and Highway 5 in Douglasville. Several fire trucks could be seen responding around 8:45 p.m. shortly after nearby residents reported hearing several loud booms.

Witnesses said they heard at least three loud booms which shook the nearby buildings. One witness thought it was thunder, so they went out to check to see if rain was coming into the area,  but instead of rain, he saw fireballs shooting into the sky.

"I felt three distinctive rumbles, almost like thunder, those back-to-back thunder, and it was so loud it shook the building. Every time you felt the boom or heard the boom, flames just went higher. I mean these are tall trees and they was just, I mean it was just taking them over," said Corey Young.

Authorities said following the explosions, 911 calls started to flood into the Douglas County call center. 

Douglas County Fire said they responded with about 20 firefighters. They reported more explosions when they arrived at the scene. 

One witness got an extremely up-close view from the neighboring business.

"We saw propane tanks just explode. It was one... One would blow then the next one would blow and then five or six of them blew simultaneously. We saw it exploding right there in front of our faces like a movie," said Cord Robins who was next door to the facility.

The business was closed at the time of the explosion. Also wrapping up their day was  American Taekwon Do, which is next door. Owner Mark Maske said all the kids and parents had just gone home when the incident happened.

"Our neighbors on the other side of us at an automotive place said 'Get out there, Glossman's on fire.' And I backed up in our front yard and I looked over on top of our building and a big boom. I said "that's not fire, that's explosions. I grabbed these two and took off," said Maske.

Maske said he had been in that building for 28 years and had never seen anything like that. He is eager to be let back into the area to survey any damage to his business or vehicles left in the parking lot.

"Firefighters recently just told me moments ago that are making good progress. The cause of the fire is under investigation. An investigator has been called in and is responding. I want to stress, no word on the cause," said Rick Martin, Douglas County spokesperson, during a press conference before 11 p.m. Thursday.

Officials said no one was injured. Several businesses and some homes nearby were evacuated as a precaution. Traffic was kept well back from the immediate area around the propane business into the early morning hours as firefighters worked to make sure the fire was completely extinguished. 

"I'm not sure there is any danger right now," said Martin. "Firefighters responded and evacuated the immediate area. It's businesses that is surrounding this area."

All roads blocked off during the fire were reopened just before 1 a.m. Friday.

Investigators are zeroing on a delivery vehicle on site as the possible ignition source. Authorities believe the vehicle was parked close to the structure which is how the fire spread so quickly.

Blossman Gas and Appliance is the largest family-owned propane company in the country. It was formed in Mississippi in 1951. It has expanded to 10 states with 68 branches and is considered the 11th largest propane company in the country.

FOX 5 News has reached out to the company for comment, but did not hear back from them as of early Friday morning.

The explosion happened just southwest of downtown Douglasville which is located about 25 miles west of Atlanta.

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