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Tacoma Deputy Fire Marshal Kevin O'Donnal said two large propane tanks exploded during a refilling operation at the foundry at 3021 South Wilkenson around 3 p.m. The driver of the propane tanker remains missing.
Firefighters are currently controlling a two-alarm fire at the foundry and trying to prevent a third tank from exploding, but O'Donnal said he does not believe the tank will explode.
O'Donnal said a power substation also exploded, which may have been the cause or the result of the fire. He said it may take investigators several days to determine further due to the extensive damage to the industrial building.
Tacoma police spokesman Mark Fulghum said the explosion shot a huge fireball nearly 500 feet up in the air. The incident shut down roadways and cut power to the city's industrial area.
One witness at the scene told KOMO 4 News the explosion damaged buildings within a five-mile radius of the foundry.
A woman who lives two blocks from the Atlas foundry said she heard and saw three big explosions at the Tacoma industrial plant. Carvedia Martin said the first blast was an earthquake so she ran outside and saw the plume with flames shooting through it. She said there was a second blast about 12 minutes later after firefighters arrived, and then a third explosion. Martin said the heat was so intense she had to cover her face.
Alan Bouman, a worker at T&T Tire Factory a couple of miles away, said the blast caused lights to flicker and a door to sway open.
"Some of the guys outside asked if you heard that, heard the explosion," Bouman said.
Matthew Washam, who is in the area, said police have continued to move onlookers farther away from the scene. He said there were multiple explosions and flames continue to shoot from a venting propane tank on the site.
The foundry, which traces its history back to 1899 when the company made iron castings for the Northwest logging industry, is near the intersection of I-5 and Highway 16.
The incident triggered several road closures in the area. The eastbound lanes of State Route 16 is stopped at Union Avenue. The southbound lanes of Interstate 5 were closed for a time just north of the exit to the westbound lanes of State Route 16. The northbound lanes were also closed at 38th Street, but the interstate has since reopened in both directions.
The explosion initially left 13,000 customers without power, but power was restored to all but 200 customers. Officials said damaged power lines may need to be fixed before power can ben restored to the remaining customers, but said work cannot begin until fire officials rule the area is safe.
something like that in Spokane happened in the summer. A couple oil tanks lit up and black smoke was everywhere. It wasnt as serious tho...