KS City, KS – By MIKE SHERRY, The Kansas City Star – Two Kansas City, Kan., car wash attendants escaped injury Sunday morning when a natural gas explosion leveled a building at the business.

James McClatchey and David Holder were on duty at the car wash at North 38th Street and Wood Avenue. About 20 minutes before the 7:45 a.m. blast, McClatchey had been examining a damaged gas meter on the side of the building. The building, made of concrete, was used to store supplies.

McClatchey and Holder, who were a few feet from the building when the explosion occurred, said they heard a boom and fled to a field next to the car wash.

The incident remains under investigation, police and fire authorities said.

Officials speculated that a driver struck and damaged the meter and that gas built up until it was set off by a pilot light in a water heater inside the building. There were tire skid marks on the pavement near the meter and around the car wash.

As the attendants fled, McClatchey said, they looked back to make sure they were away from falling debris. A couple of hours after the explosion, the two men were still at the scene — sweeping up the rubble and coming to grips with the experience.

“I’m really shocked,” McClatchey said. “I had no idea the whole building was going to blow up.” McClatchey said he had been about to enter the building for towel refills.

The blast shot debris 20 feet in the air, McClatchey said. Garage doors from the building were blown across North 38th Street.

The explosion shattered windows at nearby businesses and residences, including the garage of Pamela Bryson, who lives across the street from the car wash. One of the garage doors from the destroyed building narrowly missed a car parked in her driveway.

Bryson described the explosion as a huge boom that shook the house. She said she was thankful the blast did not blow out more windows.

Car wash owner Jim Goetz was just thankful that no one was injured.