Leaking gas blamed for coffee shop explosion

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Authorities say natural gas leaking into a sewer line caused an explosion that destroyed a coffee shop in rural Georgia and seriously injured three people. Investigators do not suspect foul play in the blast that rocked the tiny city of Homerville at about 12:15 p.m. Friday.

Glenn Allen, a spokesman for Georgia Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner Ralph Hudgens, said late Friday that investigators determined a construction crew installing fiber optic cable in the tiny city of Homerville punctured an underground natural gas line.

Allen says that gas leaked into a sewer line connected to the coffee shop, where the gas built up and was ignited by a spark shortly after noon Friday.

Allen says: "The building is destroyed." Allen says two employees and a customer suffered serious injuries, including burns. Investigators initially reported all three injured people were coffee shop employees. Allen said they were airlifted to a hospital in Gainesville, Florida. Their conditions were not immediately known.

On the city's Facebook page, Homerville officials asked residents to avoid the downtown area.

Homerville has about 2,500 residents living roughly 30 miles (48 kilometers) from the Georgia-Florida line.