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Gas explosion blamed for fire in Ephrata

Updated: Friday, December 27 2013, 08:17 PM CST
Reported by: Donna Kirker Morgan

EPHRATA -- It's believed a gas explosion caused an apartment fire in Ephrata that forced 22 people from their homes but fortunately no one was injured.

The call came out around 10:15 a.m. at the Cloister Garden Apartments on Dawn Avenue.

Fire crews arrived to find flames in the first and second floors. They also saw signs that something unusual happened at that location -- a possible gas explosion.

A maintenance worker says he was working on a gas furnace and something happened -- he saw a flash at the top of the ceiling and then the fire occurred.

That worker was OK. Everyone was evacuated safely.

State Police fire marshals are on the scene to make the final call on the cause of the blaze.

In the meantime, the Red Cross is assisting all the people who have been displaced.

Many of them wonder how they will rebuild after losing almost everything. Others can't help but think about what could have happened.

Ciara Brechtlein's mom loved to sit on her porch and watch over her Ephrata neighborhood but today, her neighbors watched as fire consumed her porch and so mcuh more.

"Well, she is in shock, to find out your apartment was blown up when you were just here. That's a shock," Brechtlein said.

"I am so thankful that no one was in there and she wasn't in there. We have a 2-year-old grandson -- just so thankful no one was in there," she said.

Borough officials have condemned a section, so fire crew stayed on scene throughout the day, but they were only able to work on hotspots from the outside.

"We hope some structure that they will be able to move in later tonight -- borough officials did walk around there today and there is some area that are uninhabitable and unsafe for fireifther themselves," said Lincoln Fire Company Chief Randall GockleyGas explosion blamed for fire in Ephrata

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