GHENT, West Virginia (AP) -- A fuel tank exploded at a gas station near a ski resort Tuesday, shattering the building and killing at least four people, authorities said.
At least nine other people were seriously hurt at the Flat Top Little General Store, where little remained except twisted metal and a sign showing the price of gasoline.
The blast was felt at least a mile away at a store selling ski gear.
"I thought we got struck by lightning. The whole building shook. The power went off," said Ben Monast, manager of the Ski Shop. ( Watch aftermath of deadly explosion Video)
Authorities suspect a tank containing propane or liquid petroleum exploded just as a fire truck was pulling into the station in response to a reported leak.
A firefighter and a paramedic were among the injured, said Kim O'Brien, spokeswoman for the state fire marshal's office.
Keli Akers said she was driving to her house about a mile from the gas station Tuesday when she began to smell propane. When she got home, she saw debris falling into her yard.
Akers said her mother "felt a huge jolt" at the time of the blast.
Akers tried to drive to the scene, but she could get no further than a nearby elementary school because roads were closed. The school was also damaged.
"I know people there," she said. "But it's not just the people who work there. Everyone goes there. Anyone could have been there."
Ghent is about 60 miles southeast of Charleston.
Copyright 2007 The Associated Press.
[ source ]