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Explosive 3-alarm fire destroys industrial building in Kent

A 2-alarm fire burns a Kent welding company's building (KOMO Photo)

KENT, Wash. -- Puget Sound Fire crews were busy Thursday morning trying to douse an explosive fire that has heavily damaged a business in Kent.

A passerby noticed smoke and flames coming from the AAA Welding Company in the 22600 block of 84th Ave. S. around 3:45 a.m. and called 911. But fire investigators say surveillance video shows the blaze may have been burning for a while before it was noticed.

By the time firefighters arrived, they could see flames coming from the building and explosions could be heard inside. A propane tank was burning on the outside of the building.

"We were getting off the exit on Central and saw huge, huge flames coming from a warehouse," said Autumn Carnley. "As we got closer the flames got even bigger!"

Crews focused their firefighting efforts on the propane tanks as the roof was too unstable to go inside the burning building, according to Puget Sound Fire officials. A second shop next door that specializes in glass work was also damaged.

The fire was mostly out by 6:30 a.m., but firefighters were still moping up hot spots.

Triple A Welders started here in Kent nearly 40 years ago.

"It's a tough day," said owner Jeffrey Hall. "It caught us off guard. We've got a lot of work. A lot of commitments and our customers have all been contacting me offering their condolences."

Fire investigators are still working to find out what started the fire. It's been tricky getting inside because they had to be careful of the tanks of chemicals used in the welding business.

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