UPDATE - Investigators in Gainesville are working Tuesday making safety checks to gas lines surrounding the restaurant that suffered a major natural gas explosion yesterday that injured five people inside.
Employees from Atmos Energy and the Texas Railroad Commission ran tests Tuesday to check for any leaks at El Taco Riendo Restaurant, and Fire Marshal Jody Henry says no other issues were found. All five individuals that were inside the building when the explosion Monday yesterday afternoon remain in Parkland Hospital this afternoon with serious burn injuries.
Gainesville Police say the three women and two children are in critical but stable condition.
Gainesville Police Sgt. Belva McClinton said it happened at 4:20 p.m. at El Taco Riendo, a Mexican food restaurant in the 200 block of North Weaver Street in Gainesville. Three adult women, an 11 year old girl, and a two year old boy were all taken by medical helicopters to Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas with severe burns.
An employee at a nearby pharmacy said their staff came out to tend to the injured before EMS made the scene just minutes after the explosion, which blew out all the windows of the business, leaving shattered glass outside.
McClinton said 3 medical helicopters were dispatched to the scene to transport the victims. Authorities say at this point they do not know what caused the blast.
We spoke to some witnesses who helped the injured before EMS even arrived on scene.
Debris surrounds the small family owned rest after an explosion unlike anything witnesses had ever heard. Now, debris surrounds the restaurant.
"It sounded like car had run into the side of our building," said Allison Womble, who works next door at Americare Pharmacy. "I looked out the back window. There was black smoke and debris hit the building."
Employees were going about business as usual at the Americare Pharmacy next door when they quickly had to respond to an emergency situation.
"They were all severely burned. We came back in and got some paper towels some water and stuff to take the heat out of the burns," said Dean Flanagan, who also works at the Pharmacy.
Three women and one 11-year-old were inside El Taco Riendo. According to the fire marshal, a gas leak caused a major explosion.
"They were all black and pieces of skin were hanging off them," said Womble.
Allison Womble says she called 911 while her dad tried to comfort the victims.
"I tried to communicate to wrap the child up they either were in shock or didn't understand what I was trying to say," Flanagan said.
Gainsville Police and Fire Departments blocked off portions of Weaver and Broadway as medical helicopters airlifted the four women to Parkland Hospital in Dallas, and the two year-old boy to the Children's Hospital in Dallas.
As the sun went down, fire crews worked to board up the restaurant where they will continue their investigation Tuesday.