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Explosion leaves gas station store in rubble

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ASHLAND, Ohio- Residents blocks from the Mobile Mart on East Main Street were shaken from their sleep early Tuesday by a powerful explosion that left the building in rubble.

The explosion happened about 3:30 a.m.

When firefighters arrived they say they discovered the building blown apart but very little fire.
A back wall of the building was blown 20-30 feet into a parking lot.

A side wall was blown from its foundation. Parts of it were in a side street.

The roof appeared to be collapsing over the store and large cracks were seen in cinder block walls on other parts of the building.

The business is open 24 hours.

There were no customers there at the time, but firefighters say the clerk was sitting at the register when the explosion happened and walked out unhurt.

"I think that's one lucky gentleman," said Fire Chief Rick Anderson.

"What went through my mind was the extent of the explosion there was actually somebody in there that didn't get hurt and there was no fire which is all good things," he added.

From his home a block away Jason Thornton says he was awake and packing to move when the explosion rattled his house.

"It rumbled the ground under me right when it happened it completely rumbled the ground and it scared me to death," said Thornton.

Deborah Sanders was just getting to bed after a long night when she said the explosion rocked her house.

"I mean it just shook my whole room I was like I didn't know if something was coming in on us like a plane, it shook, it shook the whole house," said Sanders.

Sanders says she was at the Mobile Mart just two hours earlier and told the clerk that she thought she smelled natural gas when she went to the cooler.

"It was a real strong odor you could tell it was gas. I mean as soon as I walked back towards the cooler there, yeah it was real strong and that's what I told him 'I hope you are going to be alright. I don't want to read in the paper or find you dead because of a gas leak," Sanders told Fox 8.

She said when she felt the explosion she did not think of the mini mart until she woke up on Tuesday.

Investigators with the Ashland Fire Department and the State Fire Marshall's Office were at the scene on Tuesday trying to determine a cause.

They were digging up a natural gas line to the business at mid day but had not told local residents there was anything for them to be concerned about.

Officially the cause of the explosion remains under investigation.