Investigators confirm explosion caused Athens building collapse, search for cause

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Investigators confirm an explosion is responsible for a partial building collapse in Athens Sunday night. But they are still searching for the cause of the blast that sent a man to the hospital.

It happened just after 5 p.m. in the 100 block of West Union Street, near Ohio University.

Laura Armbruster was across the street from the blast.

"I had my headphones in and then all the sudden I heard something and felt something to my side, and I was actually just right across the street, and I took out my headphones and it was right as the boom was ending. And I looked over to the bicycle shop and immediately just saw the ceiling collapse."

Jake Braden was next door.

"All of the sudden, this loud noise happens. And it didn't just happen like once, it happened for five seconds. So a duration of this time. I thought it was an earthquake. And I turn around, my coworker was right there, and I just remember seeing a bunch of like dust fall from the ceiling. I think the building is going to collapse on us."

Jake and his co-workers at Thai Paradise ran outside and looked up, to see a man emerge from the rubble.

"We start to walk outside when we noticed the man running across the roof of Thai Paradise. Then he just collapsed."

Witnesses saw first responders climbing to the roof of the restaurant to help the victim.

Firefighters secured him and used their ladder to lower him to an ambulance.

"You've got bricks coming through, it looks like it punctured through the rubber rooftop. And last night we had water gushing in here," he said.

He says a saving grace was Sunday night's cold, wet weather. Debris and glass rained down on his patio, which on any other night, would have been packed with people.

"It could have been a lot of injuries. Because the glass shot from across the rooftop onto the patio, punctured a bunch of chairs, boxes and tables."

Columbia Gas tells 10TV it tested all of its lines and checked for leaks in the area surrounding the explosion site.

They say they found no problems or concerns, and are confident their facilities were not involved.

Investigators have not released the name of the injured man, so we have not been able to get an update on his condition.

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