GRANDVIEW, Mo. -- Investigators with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms will be in Grandview Wednesday to investigate an explosion that busted out the windows of nearby apartments and homes and engulfed a business in flames, but until then crews will continue to monitor the fire that is still smoldering.
It was just before 7 p.m. Tuesday when someone driving by JW Lawn Service near 140th Street and I-49 noticed smoke drifting across the highway.
When firefighters arrived, they were told that the owner of the lawn service also ran an ammunition reloading business in the basement.
Fearing an explosion, firefighters battled the blaze defensively, and within a minute of arriving, the whole building exploded.
The explosion busted out windows of 19 nearby apartments and nine homes. Viewers reported feeling the blast as far as Lee's Summit, and the City of Grandview reports that people in Stilwell, Kan., felt it as well.
Debris rained down everywhere, even across the interstate. Firefighters evacuated 46 people after the initial massive explosion.
Firefighters at the scene reported hearing numerous explosions.
"Several large explosions, one major explosion right off the bat. It blew the building apart and you'll be able to see debris in the trees," Grandview Fire Chief Ron Graham said. "(It) blew debris up into the trees, blew us back a little bit, got us to move back a little bit and then more explosions and ammunition started going off."
A worker at a nearby gas station described what he experienced:
"I was in the back, I mean I was behind the cash register, I heard this big boom. I got scared, I thought something hit the gas station so I hit the ground immediately I kind of got spooked."
Fire officials believe gun powder in the basement caused the explosion.
As of 9 a.m. the fire was still burning in the basement, so ATF crews have been unable to search for what caused the explosion.
John Ham with ATF says it is legal to reload ammunition, so the individual wouldn't have broken any laws, but added it would take a massive amount of gunpowder to cause such an explosion.
Ham also said they are not sure what caused the explosion because gunpowder does not just spontaneously combust. The Grandview Fire Department says they have ruled out natural gas as a cause because the business had no natural gas service.
No one was hurt, but Ham says the owner told him a dog inside the house has not been found. That dog has been presumed dead.
Grandview officials say the owner was licensed and an active business with the city. It was registered as a business, not a residence.
The 140th Street bridge is closed along with the West Outer Road at 138th Street until least 5 p.m. due to the investigation.