Investigation begins into Cary building explosion

CARY – An investigation began Thursday into the Cary building explosion and fire that sent three people to the hospital.

The Cary Fire Department, the state fire marshal and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration were investigating the scene at Fox Valley Systems, 640 Industrial Drive.

It was not clear how long the investigation will take, but Cary Fire Chief Jeff Macko said it could be finished in one to two days.

Macko said that all three people injured are expected to survive.

About 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, several fire departments responded to reports of smoke and flames at Fox Valley Systems, a marking and striping company that does traffic and athletic field painting.
Firefighters called for hazmat units to come to the scene. Hazmat investigators determined that the air quality was not an issue, Macko said.

Cary Police Chief Steven Casstevens said there was a report of one explosion. When an officer arrived on scene, there was a second explosion.

A 60-foot section of brick wall at the front of the building and another “significant” chunk in the back were blown out by the explosions, Casstevens said.

Macko said he wouldn’t speculate on the costs, but there was “extensive damage” to the building.
Approximately 20 people were working at the time of the explosions and all were able to get out, Macko said.

“The company owners did a great job of getting everybody out and getting them accounted for,” Macko said.

A phone call to Fox Valley Systems was not returned Thursday. All of the surrounding buildings, including Cary Gymnastics at 600 Industrial Drive and about 20 to 25 others, were evacuated for several hours. No residences were affected.

Brett Coleman, owner of Coleman’s in Cary restaurant, works directly across the street from Fox Valley Systems and said he ushered office workers inside his restaurant as they were fleeing the burning building.

“There was a lot of black smoke coming out,” Coleman said. “There was a smell in the air. Obviously there’s paint and other stuff in there so everybody was a little worried.”

“I was in the office when I heard the first explosion,” said Gordon Scherzer, a doctor at Arts of Health Acupuncture who works beside Fox Valley Systems. “At first I thought it was our building. I walked to see the damage and the front of the building was blown off. You could smell some pretty nasty stuff.”

• Reporter Emily Coleman contributed to this article.

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