A propane tank explosion at Atlas Castings and Technology shook Tacoma this afternoon. Shortly after 3 p.m. lights flickered in nearby buildings before a short but violent tremor shook the ground for miles around. Shoppers at Half Price Books on Tacoma Mall Boulevard (where yours truly was spending entirely too much money on half-price dvds) saw a ball of flame shoot skyward when they ran outside after feeling the explosion.
The initial explosion was caused by a truck filling propane tanks, which then set off two subsequent explosions. All employees have been accounted for, though two are in the hospital.
Dispatchers received 911 calls reporting the explosion from miles away and Tacoma Police are reporting possible damage to buildings within a five-mile radius.
Portions of Highway 16 and I-5 have been shut down, as have roads running through Nalley Valley near the explosion site, causing major congestion around the Tacoma Mall and on southbound I-5.
As of 4:45 p.m. flames and smoke were still pouring skyward and firefighters are working to keep another propane tank from exploding.