Small underground explosion in Wausau - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

UPDATE: Small underground explosion in Wausau

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WAUSAU (WAOW) -

A small explosion on Wausau's west side caused dozens to evacuate Thursday night.

Fire officials say a fire started underground near the La Quinta Inn. That caused the power to go out, and dozens of hotel guests had to find another place to stay.

It all started with a bang.

"When it built up enough pressure in there it popped those lids off," Doug Beula, Wausau Fire Battalion Chief said.

Authorities say a fire started underground in a utility vault located between the La Quinta Inn and Furniture and Appliance Mart. The fire caused an explosion, which caused three manhole covers to soar more than 12 feet into the air. 

"It's all electrical components that were in there, of some type," Beula said.

Fire officials say when they arrived on scene the fire was still burning. So, they immediately closed down nearby streets. 

"We took readings with gas meters and found no sign of flammable gases," Beula said.

Authorities say the fire was put out within a half hour. But, the explosion caused some nearby businesses, like La Quinta, to lose power.

"The lady said we had five minutes to get our stuff and get out," La Quinta guest David McCrary said.

Dozens of hotel guests, including McCrary, had to evacuate. Many headed to the Super 8, but not before packing up their belongings by the light of just a flashlight.

"We took turns holding the flashlight for each other and we tried to get all of our stuff together," McCrary said.

Managers at La Quinta Inn had no comment. Authorities are still trying to determine what caused the fire. They say no one was hurt.

WPS crews were able to fully restore power early Friday morning.

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