Jarrett (for web)


EDEN, N.C. — Christian Jarrett ended his shift at Eden’s KFC at around 11 p.m. Wednesday night. Roughly 90 minutes later, an explosion had reduced his workplace to rubble.

It was only when the 21-year-old made a chance stop at the Sheetz convenience store opposite KFC, that Jarrett realized his place of employment on Van Buren Avenue was decimated.  

"Knowing that I could have been in there just terrifies me," said Jarrett, who has worked at the restaurant for about two years and alleges a kitchen gas line safety valve was vulnerable and exposed.

"It terrifies me, like what would have happened if my family would have found out that I was blown up at work because of negligence …," Jarrett said.

Between 9:30 and 10 p.m., Jarrett and his boss began smelling natural gas fumes, strong enough to give Jarrett a slight headache, he said.

In response to a possible gas leak, the supervisor tightened a valve on a kitchen gas line, near a bank of food warmers, said Jarrett, noting this was the first time employees had smelled gas during his shift. While he was uncertain, Jarrett said his supervisor may have called gas company officials to alert them at the close of business.  

"I'm guessing that she had turned it and I guess she didn't turn it all the way or maybe there was too much gas already in there," he said. "But I remember the last thing she said was that she smelled a gas leak and I had said the same thing …"

Jarrett confirmed that the five or six members of the night crew left at closing time. Eden Police Chief Greg Light confirmed there were no casualties from the explosion. Light, who enlisted the help of Greensboro-based ATF officers, in the investigation, said he does not suspect foul play. The federal office of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms acts as an investigative agency in such cases. 

At dawn, emergency workers and investigators will still on scene and workers continued clearing debris from the busy thoroughfare launched by the fulmination.

This is a developing story.

Visit RockinghamNow.com for updates.

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Joe Dexter is a staff writer for RockinghamNow. He can be reached at 336-349-4331 ext. 6139 or @JoeDexter_RCN on Twitter.

Susie C. Spear is a staff writer for RockinghamNow. She can be reached at 743-333-4101.

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