Neighbors say the explosion shook their homes and shook them as up well. A loud boom breaks the silence in tiny Grayville Illinois this afternoon, shortly followed by another. "We heard kind of an explosion down there, and then I heard a couple of them after I got down there." Neighbors quickly realized the noise came from a near-by oil business."You don't know what it was. We thought it was the bank starting out then we got up town and we saw it was down there." John Cox says he and his son, a Grayville fire fighter, heard the noise this afternoon and knew something was wrong. "I went down to David's, which is my son, he's on the fire department. We went down, got him, and he went to the bank. Then we left the IGA. He went in and got some food, and I started talking to my other son. Then we saw a big mushroom cloud up here. Then I took him to the fire department and came on down here," says Cox.
Officials believe a wood burning stove over heated and was then ignited by a near by tank of flammable chemicals causing the explosion at Goff and Pruitt Drilling company, but Cox says another boom was heard shortly after. "It was an oil field company, they had a lot of oil equipment and drill bits, etc. Propane bottles were in there. We had one acetylene bottle actually explode. It flew about three hundred feet to the east in the air," says Grayville Fire Chief Rob Spencer. "Well, it started in front of the building and went plum across the road," says Cox. The neighborhood is still feeling the shock from today's explosion and say there community's recovery will be a slow process. "You just got to take it one day at a time."
Sixty-six year old Larry Perry was injured in the accident and has been life flighted to Barn Jewish Hospital in St. Louis. Tony Berger who was also injured suffered burns to his hands and upper body. The structure is considered a total loss.