PENDLETON, Ore. (AP) — An explosion downtown Tuesday morning blew out windows and ignited massive flames that burned for more than an hour in a century-old building in northeast Oregon.
One person was killed and two others were rushed to a hospital after the blast.
"At first it sounded like thunder," Charlene Hanson told the East Oregonian newspaper. "There was a light one, a bigger one and then a huge explosion."
Jared Pennington said he was in his music studio when the building shook and glass shattered at 8 a.m. He said he ran outside but raced back in to help rescue a man in a third-floor apartment who was seriously injured. "He was bad off," Pennington said.
Pendleton Police Chief Stuart Roberts said authorities have an idea about what caused the blast but wouldn't release it without further investigation. He praised firefighters for keeping the flames from spreading to neighboring buildings.
The fire "was moving pretty hard and hot," he told the newspaper.
Part of the building, a former City Hall, which now houses apartments and offices, was destroyed.
Police rerouted traffic, and several blocks lost power in downtown Pendleton, city of about 17,000 set amid ranchland near the Washington state line.
The building was home to Pendleton's city government until the mid-1990s, when City Hall moved and the building was sold to a private owner.
The East Oregonian and KEPR-TV identified man killed as 25-year-old Eduardo Quezada.
Larry Blanc, spokesman for St. Anthony Hospital, said the other victims were in fair condition.
Information from: East Oregonian, http://www.eastoregonian.info