Employees Describe ‘Ball of Fire’ at Freight Company

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COPLEY, Ohio-- A huge fire at a Northeast Ohio freight company injured one worker and forced the evacuation of area businesses, including a day care.

"All of a sudden just a big explosion and a ball of fire just like that and they got us all out and we're all safe, except one guy, took him to the hospital, minor burns; he's ok though," said employee Dave Barkman.

Around 9:15 a.m. Friday, an explosion and fire rocked the YRC Motor Freight Terminal in Copley.

FOX 8 viewers sent pictures and video of the smoke and flames rising into the air.

"There was a fireball come right out the door, this way, right out the door, right behind him and then everything just went up just like that," said employee, Pete Venturini.

"I heard this big boom and it was just across the dock and just three doors down from my office and all of a sudden the guys are yelling, 'quick, quick, fire, get outta here, get outta here,'" said employee, Pat Hanna.

SkyFOX flew overhead as firefighters fought the flames.

The smoke was so thick that police closed nearby Cleveland-Massillon and Copley Roads for a few hours.  Authorities were also concerned about fumes from the potentially hazardous solvent that was burning and evacuated nearby businesses.

"Apparently there was a dock worker loading or unloading a trailer, when something caught on fire. Four large containers of dimethyl ether, each one weighing probably about 165 pounds, that's what they know what was on there and that's what they think ignited," said Copley Police Chief Michael Mier.

"They told us to get in the big school bus. (And you came here...but why were you scared?)... because there was smoke," said day care student, Kendall Skinner.

Children at the Kids Academy of Copley day care center which is next to the freight terminal were evacuated to Copley High School, where their parents picked them up.

"They just said they had to evacuate; there was an explosion. I didn't really know where it was; they just said it was close to the school; that they had to evacuate. So we had to hurry up and come get 'em and they were at the high school," said her mother, Jen Skinner.

"I've never seen nothing like it; it was real scary," said Venturini.

The company released a statement, saying they are cooperating with investigators.