Guests cope after part of Bremerton motel destroyed in gas explosion

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BREMERTON, Wash. -- The explosion at a Bremerton motel leveled an entire side of a building and now officials are trying to determine what caused the gas line to rupture.

Everyone who was in the hotel got out safely, but that explosion destroyed the entire corner of the building and rocked nearby homes.

It’s a mangled mess as a section of a three story building is reduced to rubble.

“All of our stuff is in the room. All we took were our cell phones,” said Justine Cherry, who was staying with her fiancé at the motel.

People staying at the Motel 6 came back on Wednesday to see the damage firsthand, but all of them were hoping to get inside and grab their personal belongings.

“So our ID cards and everything still in there,” added Cherry.

Cherry and her fiancé, Trevor Brinkman ,were among the 42 people in the motel who evacuated when the fire alarm went off.

“We just waited it out inside the Burger King and didn’t expect anything to happen. Then we heard the blast and Burger King shook and we look over and it looked like that,” said Brinkman, who works at the nearby naval base.

Motel clerk Tonya Hinds smelled the gas coming from a meter and the back of the motel -- and she quickly helped everyone get out just in time

“I care about our guest, pets their children. I was concerned about their safety,” said Hinds.

About 20 minutes later, the gas line blew and it sent a gas company worker to the hospital in critical condition.

The powerful blast, blew out windows at the home across the street and damaged the garage door.

It also did some damage to a neighboring business that had to shut down for the day.

Motel guest Stephen Rapczap is still missing his dog Tiffany, who he considers part of the family.

"She’s still out there somewhere. I guess when the firefighters kicked in the door she took off running, really scared from the explosion and we haven’t been able to find her yet,” said Rapczap.

As the investigation into what caused the explosion continues, many here are thinking about the gas company worker who was critically injured in the blast.

“I’m very worried about our gas man and I just hope everyone is praying for him,” added Hinds.

That worker remains in the hospital and he’s in intensive care with severe burns.

By Wednesday afternoon, fire crews escorted people staying at the motel back into their rooms to get their belongings. Many had rushed out of the hotel with just the clothes on their back.

Many of them are now staying at other nearby motels.

The gas company worker injured in the blast remains in the hospital with severe burns, but he is expected to survive.

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