SAN MARCOS, Texas (KXAN) — Texas State University students were rocked awake by loud explosions Thursday morning, as propane tanks at nearby food trucks exploded.
It happened at the Allo Eatery Mobile Food Park, 801 Chestnut Street, an area surrounded by student housing and just a few blocks from the university campus.
San Marcos Fire Chief Les Stephens says they got a call about an explosion around 6:03 a.m. The second explosion came around 6:20 a.m.
He says a total of four food trucks were damaged or destroyed and seven buildings were impacted.
Stephens says all food trucks were up to code.
Fire Marshal Kelly Kissner says the blasts could have seriously injured or killed someone. Luckily, nobody was outside at the time.
But many people still felt the impact.
Jordyn Grey is the assistant general manager at Javas and Mochas coffee shop a block away from the blast.
“All of a sudden there’s a huge boom,” she recalls.
The windows of the coffee shop shattered.
“Me and my coworkers kind of just run away from the noise because at this point we don’t know what’s going on,” she says.
“It honestly felt like the whole building kind of shook, like just at it’s foundations.”
Grey says a first responder stopped in to make sure they were safe.
Another one came back a few minutes later.
“He’s like, ‘Hey, you guys need to stay away from the windows because there’s a possibility that there might be another explosion. Pretty much as soon as he walks right out of the store, another explosion goes off,” Grey says.
KXAN spoke to students as they walked to class about what they experienced.
‘We look out the window and we see just this huge fireball’
Skylar Jaramillo woke up at 5:20 a.m. to get a drink of water and headed back to bed. Less than an hour later, she and her friends were jarred awake in their apartments at Vie Lofts.
“We just felt this giant crash and, honestly, a lot of us thought it was the structural integrity of the building,” Jaramillo said, referring to earlier concerns of the structural integrity of stairwells at Vie Lofts which led her and others to evacuate for a week in September. “We were freaking out like, ‘Oh my god, the building’s falling.’ and then we look out the window and we see just this huge fireball.”
The junior-year student said she and her friends watched from next door as the Rondooley’s food truck burned and spread to the El Morenito truck.
“And then that just exploded and we got that on film.”
WARNING: The below footage contains explicit language. Video courtesy Kyerstynn Gonzalez.
Jaramillo said she spoke to the owner of El Morenito to give him a copy of the video.
“He said it was fine — everything else can be replaced,” she said. “What was good is that nobody was hurt.”
Officials confirmed Thursday morning that there were no injuries, and at least three trucks had damage.
Jaramillo had just gone to get food at one of the trucks in the park the night before.
“It was really scary at first because we don’t know what’s happening — it’s the middle of the night, a bunch of stuff fell off our walls and we’re freaking out and then we see this giant explosion,” Jaramillo said. “And reality just kind of sets in that this is somebody’s livelihood and it’s just kind of heart-wrenching.”
Michael Cugini, a senior, was walking to his 8 a.m. class when he passed by the place where the explosions happened. He told KXAN some of the trucks were “completely gutted.”
He said the trucks and nearby commercial kitchen had only been open about a month. According to its website, “TheCoKitchen is a culinary incubator that is co-located with our mobile food park the Allo Eatery. Our 1800s commercial kitchen is setup as a Central Prep Facility for the trucks in our food park as well as a shared-use kitchen for kitchen members.”
Cugini said he and his girlfriend initially thought the explosions were thunder.
“I thought it was unusual that thunder sounded that loud,” he said. “I kind of chalked it up to that, but I definitely woke up, heart was pounding, it was that loud. I mean, it was one of the loudest things I’d heard before.”
After that first boom, he tried to go back to sleep, but heard a quieter boom about 10 minutes later and then heard sirens.