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Dozens Hurt After Fireball Explodes Over Pool of Newly Opened Texas Hotel

August 07, 1999|From Associated Press

GRAPEVINE, Texas — A fireball exploded Friday over the swimming pool of a newly opened hotel near Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, seriously burning at least one person and cutting dozens of others with broken glass.

No fatalities were reported. There was no fire after the initial blast, and police said nobody had been trapped in the rubble. The hotel's manager said a natural gas line could have been responsible, but a utility spokeswoman at the scene said she did not think gas was involved.

The blast took place shortly before 7 p.m. CDT in a ground-floor equipment room of the Embassy Suites Outdoor World hotel, which had opened Tuesday but remained under construction.

A Texarkana woman was in a glass elevator overlooking the pool when the explosion took place. "I saw people just running and panicking," Stacie Duncan said. "I saw children with glass stuck in their legs screaming for their parents."

Bill Bretches, the hotel manager, said 600 guests and 200 employees were at the hotel. Everybody was accounted for, he said. Bretches said the guests would be moved to other hotels.

Bretches said the pool heater had been turned off and was being serviced by a subcontractor, who was the most severely hurt.

That man was airlifted to a hospital for treatment of second-degree burns over his face and arms. It was believed he had entered the equipment room, carrying a compressed gas tank, just before the explosion.

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