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Explosion Destroys Fitchburg Auto Shop

By Lauren Leamanczyk, WBZ-TV
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WBZ-TV's Lauren Leamanczyk Lauren Leamanczyk
Lauren Leamanczyk is an I-Team Correspondent for WBZ-TV News and is...
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FITCHBURG (CBS) – An explosion rocked businesses on Lunenberg Street in Fitchburg, destroying an auto parts store and damaging nearby homes.

Neighbors say it sounded like a bomb. John Tate owns Victory Auto which took the brunt of the blast. He and a customer were inside when the blast occurred without any warning.

“We couldn’t smell nothing or nothing. We were just standing in there talking and all of a sudden it’s just a big boom and stuff started falling down on us so we came out this front door,” Tate told WBZ.

Bricks blew off the building’s facade and the windows shattered. Products are still visible on the store’s shelves, but the business is a loss.

“This is my livelihood. That was it,” Tate said.

The explosion shook homes even several blocks away, damaging at least 6 or 7 of them. Most had broken windows.

The home directly behind the auto parts store had to have gas disconnected and the damage was significant enough that Gregory LeBlanc and his girlfriend have to find a new place to stay.

They were cooking dinner when the explosion knocked them off their feet.

“All of a sudden a huge explosion. I was knocked down. She was knocked down and boom,” he said. “All the lights went out, windows blew in on us.”

While investigators have not officially pinpointed the cause, they were digging underground for clues.

“Right now they’re looking at some gas mains in the street,” said Deputy Fire Chief John Curran.

“The area has been made safe, we are conducting leak surveys along Lunenburg Street here,” said Unitil spokesman Alec O’Meara.

There had not been any work on lines in the area in recent days. Neighbors a few streets away received a letter last week saying their gas mains would be replaced. O’Meara said that did not affect the block where the explosion occurred.

Tate seemed in shock after having watched his business torn to pieces. He is amazed he walked away without a scratch.

“I’m here standing talking to you. That’s the main thing,” he said.

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