September 20, 2014

Elyria
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Warehouse explosion resembles earthquake

RAVENNA — An explosion at a Northeast Ohio industrial plant closed for the Labor Day holiday leveled the plant’s storage warehouse, shook the ground for more than a mile and sent glass and debris flying, but injured no one, fire officials said.

“It was an earth-shattering explosion. We heard a huge boom like a percussion, then complete silence,” said Joe Bica, a Ravenna city councilman who lives more than a mile away.

“Then you could hear every fire and police siren in town.”

The Griswold Manufacturing Inc. processing plant, which punches holes in metal products, has 117 employees — all off on Monday because of the holiday, said Ravenna Fire spokesman Bob Walker.

About seven workers normally work at the warehouse, said Griswold president Terry Gaab.

Fire officials do not know what caused the explosion, which happened about 6:50 a.m., Walker said. The warehouse’s steel structure is all that’s left standing, he said.

Gaab said a firefighter told him the area smelled of natural gas when fire trucks arrived shortly after the explosion. The company’s only use of natural gas is to heat the building, he said.

“It is a godsend that this was a holiday,” Bica said. “Normally there would be lots of workers at the produce company next door and kids across the street at the technical school center.