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Neighbors Recount Scary Explosion That Sparked Fire At Kennett Square Apartment Complex, Victory Brewing Company

CHESTER COUNTY, Pa. (CBS) -- An explosion and fire ripped through part of a building in Chester County Monday night. Fortunately, no one was injured as dozens scrambled to safety.

Authorities in Chester County are investigating what caused an explosion that led to a fire at the Magnolia Place Apartments and the Victory Brewing Company Taproom in Kennett Square. 

"As soon as we got out, the explosion went off and the fire company got us all out of here," said resident Trish Desmond.

Firefighters responded to the building at 650 West Cypress Street just before 6:30 p.m. Monday for a fire alarm. The explosion and fire followed shortly after.

"Honestly, I thought it was like two tractor-trailers colliding," said Ted Vanderslice, who lives in a townhouse community across the street and was among the people evacuated. "The gas lines run underneath all of these houses, so they were doing a really quick job of getting everyone out, banging on all the doors, shining flashlights, making sure that everyone who wasn't answering wasn't already outside."

The Chester County Fire Marshal is investigating the cause, but residents say the explosion happened in an electrical room on the property. No one was hurt.

In all, a PECO spokeswoman said 55 customers are affected and service will remain shut off to the building. 

Annie Roland returned from a trip out-of-state and rushed home to make sure her cat was OK.

"They let us go up there and actually grab him because he was hiding under the bed," she said. "And so we found our cat, so that's all I care about. I don't care the damage, I'm sure it's fine."

Fortunately, the Victory Brewing taproom on the first floor is closed on Mondays and was empty. Otherwise, employees and customers would have been inside. 

The building has been deemed structurally unstable, so there's no word as to when the taproom might reopen and residents can return. A Red Cross spokesman said everyone affected has been able to find alternate accommodations.

PECO is also helping to investigate the cause of the fire and is reviewing records of any recent and historical work done to the building.

The Kennett Square Police Department is asking any residents of Magnolia Place Apartments or neighbors in the immediate area who might have video of the explosion and fire to contact investigators at 610-444-0501.


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