Lone Oak Road construction blasting on hold pending reviews after debris hits homes, cars

Gary B. Gray • Jul 11, 2012 at 9:33 PM

An explosion rocked the Willowbroook Condominiums on Monday afternoon when city workers set off a blast in an attempt to break through rock in preparation for the replacement of an existing bridge.

No one was injured. However, several condominiums and vehicles were damaged at the intersection of Brook Hollow and Lone Oak roads when the blast occurred about 4:45 p.m. Monday.

Tom Witherspoon, the city’s water and sewer director, said the city is replacing the bridge, creating a walking trail and replacing a waterline on the south side of Lone Oak.

“We do not know the cause, but we do blasting all the time,” he said. “We are submitting information to the State Fire Marshal’s Office, and blasting will not proceed until we have submitted our review and they are comfortable that we can continue.”

The explosion occurred about 30 to 40 yards from the northwestern edge of the condominiums, and Public Woks Director Phil Pindzola confirmed Witherspoon’s report, adding only that “it got away from them,” referring to workers at the site.

Windows were shattered, and rocks from the creek bed ripped through screening, landing inside several of the condos. Several vehicles were severely damaged, sustaining smashed windows, dents and other damage.

Ashley Head, who lives in a corner unit near the site, said the explosion blew out her front window and flying rock made its way through the window screening and into the residence. The blast also blew out the window of a car owned by her daughter’s friend.

“I was at work, but my daughter and her friends were here,” she said. “She called me and was in a panic, and she usually is not one to get upset over things. She told me she had heard a blast and that there was glass and rock all over the floor.”

She said there are “dents and scrapes” on the walls, both inside and out.

“We’re speaking with the city’s risk management as far as adjustments or compensation,” she said. “Now it’s just a waiting game, and I hope it’s addressed as soon as possible.”

A check on other residents yielded no results, though there was visible evidence a handful of properties and vehicles had sustained damage from flying dirt and possibly other debris.

As she spoke, dump trucks backed into the drive leading to the condos while heavy machinery lifted rock from the trucks and laid it along the creek bed. The area was closed to through traffic and pumps were pushing water into storm drains.

Signs were posted in the neighborhood near the work site warning that they were entering a blasting zone and that “audible warnings will be given prior to explosions.”

Several property owners nearby said the recalled hearing something unusual, but they reported no damage.

Recommended for You

    Johnson City Press Videos