Just over a decade ago, a gas leak at the Little General in Ghent caused a massive explosion that left death and devastation in its wake.
On the 11th anniversary, family and friends of the victims spoke out about that day they will never forget.
“Somebody told me the Little General had exploded, never in my wildest dreams did I think my husband was there,” the wife of one victim, Hazel Burroughs said.
Burroughs explained January 30, 2007 was the day that rocked her world. “I asked if he was hurt he said ‘yes’ then I asked ‘how bad’ and he said ‘the worst,'” Burroughs said.
The light of her world, Fred Burroughs was there when a propane leak caused a massive explosion. It was a day that shattered Hazel’s life and the future with her husband.
Fred was among the four people who were killed. It’s a day Hazel and other families still grieve over. “It was a horrific time for all of us. Not just me, the other families as well,” Burroughs said.
Among the dead are, Jeff Treadway who was a propane technician, Craig Dorsey the second who was a volunteer firefighter and Glen Bennett who was another propane technician. Another victim, Donnie Caldwell died three years later from his injuries. They were all with Fred at the store when the explosion happened. Each of them are remembered and honored by their families and friends. “You kiss your loved ones goodbye in the morning and never in your wildest dreams do you think you won’t see them again,” Burroughs said. Family and friends explained, 11 years later they are still trying cope with the heartbreak.
First responders who were on the scene said they will never forget what they saw. “Before you get to what was the Little General there, there’s stuff all in the road. You’re like ‘holy cow’ what’s going on,” the former Captain for the Beckley Fire Department, Kevin Price said.
That’s when Price realized he arrived at one of the worst accidents he had ever seen. “Whether it was just a handful of people that were killed or injured, it affected a whole lot more.”
The explosion rattled the community and some living blocks away from the store said they felt the blast. “I thought it was closer to me than what it was because it sounded just like a big explosion,” a resident living in Ghent, Patricia Moomaw said.
It’s an explosion that changed lives and shattered families, “We all lost something,” Price added.
Price said it was a high price to pay to make sure an explosion like the one in Ghent never happens again. “Were safety measures implemented later on? ‘Yeah,’ but unfortunately my friends had to die,” Price said.
As for the families who still feel the heartache and loss a decade later, they have advice for their community. “I think one thing I’ve told people is tell the people you love that you love them today, because you don’t know if that next moment is going to be there for you to say it,” Burroughs said.