Evacuees react to explosion

Evacuees react to explosion »Play Video
PLYMOUTH, Wash. -- KEPR spent most of the day at the Umatilla County Fairgrounds where it is temporarily being used as a shelter for these people who had to be evacuated.

All of them felt the boom. Many of them just wanted answers. How long will we be here? When can we return home?

It started off as a normal morning for Debbie Schultz. She was serving breakfast to her grandson when all of a sudden...

"There was this horrific boom, and I mean it just shook the house. We experienced earthquakes a couple of times, and it was actually greater than the earthquakes that we've been in," said Debbie.

Debbie lives all the way across the river from the plant in rural Umatilla, but she felt the boom like it was right next door. As soon as she felt the explosion, she turned to look out her window.

"Saw that the Williams gas plant across from us, something in it exploded there and there was flames, a fire, that was really high and a big plume that went up," she said.

Debbie says living just three-quarters of a mile from the natural gas plant has always worried her.

"It was very scary. We've always wondered if something like that might happen over there and it did this morning."

People six miles down the road in Irrigon reported feeling the blast, too. James Hoffman was just up the hill in Plymouth at the time.

"Just a good boom," he said.

"I heard like this big boom, you know, I thought it was a gunshot, maybe, and it woke me up," said Jacob Christianson.

Both guys live right near the plant.

"We just saw ambulances, fire trucks, sheriffs, police officers," said Christianson.

Sheriffs told both of their families to evacuate.

"I was ready to go back to work and then all of a sudden they all come in and say we have to get out."

Dozens of people piled into the Umatilla County Fairgrounds. It was set up as a temporary shelter. Local volunteers and the Red Cross were handing out emergency supplies, while people are unsure how long they'll be there.

"I hope it ain't too long. I mean, I hope nobody is gonna get hurt or nothing serious with this."

A Benton County deputy said the evacuations may last overnight. But the evacuation is voluntary and no one is being stopped from returning to their home at this hour. The wind was in the favor of emergency crews who were assessing the gas leak.