Authorities Investigate Cause Of Explosion On Guam

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Police say no evidence found to support deliberate act

By Frank Whitman

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Marianas Variety Guam, Sept. 30, 2013) – The Guam Police Department (GPD) and FBI are working together to determine the cause of the explosion Thursday evening that caused minor injuries to two people at the area of the Tree Bar at the Hilton Guam Resort & Spa in Tumon.

Underground liquid propane pipes may have been the cause of the explosion, which is still under investigation, according to a statement released Friday.

"At this time, we have found no evidence to indicate that the explosion was a deliberate act," according to a statement from acting Chief of Police Maurice Sayama. "Authorities will be clearing debris and concrete from the scene to allow complete access to the blast area and to check the integrity of underground liquid propane pipes that may have been the cause of the explosion."

According to Sgt. Elizabeth Flickinger, acting public information officer for GPD, no new information was available since the Friday statement.

Island residents who had visited the Hilton Tree Bar in the weeks before the incident told Variety they had detected a strong odor of leaking gas at the location.

Joseph Meyers, a Tumon resident, said he was at the Tree Bar several weeks prior to the explosion. "While we were there, we smelled a gas leak," he said. "We notified the management it appeared there was a leak from some type of fuel source. The smell was overwhelming. It seemed to be an accident waiting to happen."

Injured

Friday’s statement confirmed that two men were injured in the blast and treated for minor injuries at Guam Memorial Hospital. The injured were a 22-year-old Japanese tourist and a 38-year-old Caucasian hotel guest. The 38-year-old was evacuated with the rest of the hotel guests and when outside, complained of a burning sensation in his eyes and throat.

A 23-year-old woman, who is a Filipino resident, was transported to GMH after she reported that she was injured from being shoved during the evacuation of the hotel.

Other local and federal public safety agencies that responded to the incident include the Guam Fire Department, Navy and Air Force explosive ordnance disposal units, the Air Force Office of Special Investigations, Coast Guard Investigative Service, Navy and Air Force working dog teams, Naval Criminal Investigative Service and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

According to the statement, the hotel management and staff are to be congratulated "for implementing procedures to ensure their guests and employees remained safe. They evacuated the hotel quickly in order to allow for a full inspection of the property."

The explosion was reported at 8:40 a.m., according to Guam Fire Department spokesman Lt. Ed Artero. Guests were evacuated from the building, transported to nearby hotels and permitted to return at about 12:30 a.m., about four hours after the blast.

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