Explosion at Ogunquit restaurant sends 2 to hospital

Posted June 24, 2014, at 1:34 p.m.
Last modified June 24, 2014, at 7:21 p.m.
An explosion at Captain’'s Catch in Ogunquit blew windows and glass into the street and sent two employees to the hospital with burns on Tuesday.
Chris Hayden | York County Coast Star
An explosion at Captain’'s Catch in Ogunquit blew windows and glass into the street and sent two employees to the hospital with burns on Tuesday.

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OGUNQUIT, Maine — An explosion at Captain’s Catch, 141 Main St., blew windows and glass into the street and sent two employees to the hospital with burns at 10:59 a.m. Tuesday

Maine Department of Public Safety spokesman Stephen McCausland said in an update Tuesday evening that Allison Soucier, 44, and Christopher Graham, 50, both of Wells, were the two injured in the explosion.

McCausland said Soucier was at a Biddeford hospital, where she was receiving treatment for burns to her legs. He added that Graham, who also had burns to his legs as well as respiratory problems, was being treated at Maine Medical Center.

The state fire marshal’s office determined that the explosion was caused by a buildup of propane gas from the stove the two employees were attempting to light, according to McCausland.

Ogunquit Fire Chief Mark O’Brien said the call initially came in as a motor vehicle accident, and the department was lucky, since they were already in the area on their way to a heart attack victim on an adjacent street.

“I thought it was an accident,” said Sharon Smith, who works across the street at the Sea View Motel. “I called 911. I saw a car slide off the street and people running. It happened so fast. I didn’t know what was happening.”

O’Brien said when crews arrived, both employees had walked to their vehicles and were “in tough shape.”

The power of the explosion pushed the windows out, sending debris across the street and parking lot, with a screen still sitting 30 yards away from the building hours afterwards.

Luckily, further injury was avoided as the restaurant was just being opened, and no customers were on the glass-strewn patio.

Officials said that in a propane explosion, once the fuel is burned out, the fire is over as long as nothing else catches.

“It’s a quick flash,” said O’Brien, who explained the pressure from the explosion searches for an exit from the space, which is why the windows and glass popped out so far.

O’Brien added that the burns on the employees’ lower extremities might have been the result of the sinking propane, which is heavier than air.

The two propane tanks also were located outside and within the town’s defined distance from the building, saving the tanks from igniting. After the explosion, the tanks appeared fine, with no noticeable markings.

The kitchen at Captain’s Catch is small, about 20 square feet, and the damage was largely contained to that space, according to Joel Davis of the state fire marshal’s office.

There are six residential units attached to the back of the restaurant, and Davis said those appeared to have largely escaped damage.

Smith, who heard the explosion and saw the immediate aftermath, said all she could make out was people running to and from the building.

“There was a girl screaming for ice,” said Smith. “I don’t know, like I said, it all happened so fast.”

Bangor Daily News writer Dawn Gagnon contributed to this report.

 

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