Officials are investigating the exact cause of a gas explosion that essentially destroyed a North Carolina-based Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant early Thursday.
The Eden Police Department said the explosion occurred at around 12:35 a.m., after most employees had left, according to Fox News.
Thankfully, no one was hurt.
The blast was so huge it damaged nearby stores, police said, as WGHP reported.
One local reporter even found what appeared to be the remnants of a drive-thru window 50 feet away from the building.
— Daniel Pierce (@DanielDPierce) July 11, 2019
“Thank goodness everybody was safe,” Eden Police Chief Greg Light told USA Today.
Eden Mayor Neville Hall expressed similar sentiments.
“We’re just so lucky that this wasn’t 12 hours different,” he told WFMY. “[If it happened] at noon, during the day, we’d have had a much worse situation. The main thing is no one was injured.”
But that doesn’t mean the explosion’s impact wasn’t felt in the community.
“I felt it several miles away and I understand it was felt even further away. It was big explosion for sure,” Hall told WXII.
Some neighbors even asked a WFMY reporter if there had been an earthquake.
“Debris was scattered on the road and adjacent parking lot. Duke Energy and Piedmont Natural Gas were seen there around 3 a.m.,” WFMY reported. “[The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives] was also at the scene along with the State Fire Marshal. Officials flew a drone after daybreak to take a closer look at the debris field.”
One employee told police he smelled gas while closing the restaurant.
The gas company was called, and the employee eventually went outside, where he witnessed the explosion.
“We are devastated by this incident, but most importantly we are grateful that all of our restaurant team members are safe and no one was injured,” a KFC spokesperson told Business Insider.
“We would like to thank the Eden police and fire crews, for their response and continued support,” the statement added. “We are cooperating directly with the investigating agencies as they work to determine the cause.”
Piedmont Natural Gas also released a statement on the matter.
“Piedmont Natural Gas technicians thoroughly checked the lines to the KFC and in the surrounding area today and found nothing unusual. The natural gas system is operating properly,” the statement to WXII read.
“Piedmont first received notice of the incident directly from the fire department at 12:39 a.m. today. The safety of our customers and communities is our highest priority, and we will continue to work closely with emergency responders to determine what happened.”
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