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2:33 p.m. Update: Officials were going to let parents through South Park Loop to pick up kids, but are still debating.
2:17 Update: The latest reports from Incident Commander Kathy Clay are that the AmeriGas fire is significantly diminished, but the blaze is not yet out.
Authorities also are repeating requests that parents of children at nearby schools not try to come pick up their kids as several parents have attempted to do so. The schools are safe, Teton County spokeswoman Charlotte Reynolds said.
There are no reports of injuries from the blast at this time, but a final determination will not be made until emergency personnel can inspect the scene, Reynolds said.
2:11 Update: Area schools will shelter in place until 3 p.m. dismissal, TCSD Superintendent Pam Shea says. Parents are advised to not try to access schools as area roads are closed.
2:01 Update: The explosions and fire at AmeriGas in Jackson an hour ago were caused by a leak in a large delivery truck full of propane coming to fill the underground tanks, an eyewitness said.
Bell Fitness employee and personal trainer Scott Edwards gave the following account of the explosion.
“We had a group fitness class going on in the back with about 12 people in it,” Edwards said.
From his post at the front desk of the gym, Edwards looked up to see the delivery truck driver bust through the front doors of the gym.
“He comes running into the front desk ‘You’ve gotta get everybody out of here,’” Edwards said. “You couldn’t see outside the door because of the cloud from propane. It looked like a dense fog. You couldn’t even see into the parking lot, and there was the heavy smell of propane.”
Edwards ran halfway to the fitness room and yelled for everyone to evacuate.
When the blast sucked oxygen from the building, there was a dead calm and then the noise: “Ka-bam!”
Despite flames coming in the front door, Edwards ushered people past the inferno and to the children’s room and the large window facing High School Road.
Gym owner Becky Tucker said “We don’t have anywhere to go,” Edwards recalled.
Edwards used a chair to break out the window and began helping people out.
“I started picking people up and chucking them out the window,” Edwards said.
One woman protested — “I don’t want to get cut” — but Edwards grabbed her and tossed her out.
Numerous people got minor cuts from the window glass but flames were in the building chasing them out.
Edwards made sure everyone was out, he said, and they gathered in front of the building, which was obviously engulfed.
“Holy, sh*t, it’s on fire,” Edwards said the people agreed. Then another explosion rocked the property and “we all just took off running.”
It was the scariest experience Edwards has had in his life, he said, including almost being killed in a head-on snowmobile crash 20 years ago.
“We could all be laid out and flattened in pieces in there, easy,” Edwards said. “That was the scariest thing ever.”
— Johanna Love
1:59 Update: Despite a nearby fire and explosions, Teton County School District officials are asking parents to stick to a normal end-of-school routine today.
“We are requesting parents to pick up children at [the] normal release time and buses will run at [the] normal time at [the] end of the day,” Superintendent Pam Shea said.
All children from the Jackson Hole Community School are safe and accounted for, principal Max Roach said.
Students from schools in the immediate area have been sent to Colter Elementary School.
Jackson Hole Fire/EMS officials have no information at this point about whether anyone has been injured or killed from the explosions.
1:38 Update: At least one 10,000 gallon tank at the AmeriGas building is in range of the fire and could destroy Smiths Food and Drug if it explodes, law enforcement officials at the scene said.
1:30 Update: Superintendent Shea says classes are continuing at Teton County School District schools. Jackson Hole Community School students also are gathered in the gym at Colter school. "We're in a stay-put situation," Shea said.
1:26 Update: Multiple explosions at the AmeriGas building behind Smiths Food and Drug have led to an evacuation order for the area from Teton County Emergency Management.
The order is in place for Smiths, Bell Fitness and the Flat Creek Business Center, according to an alert from the agency.
People at Jackson Hole Community School are being asked to evacuate, the alert says.
All students in Colter Elementary School, Jackson Hole High School and Jackson Hole Middle School are in lockdown mode, Teton County School District Superintendent Pam Shea reports.
Students from Sweet Peas day care center and Teton Literacy Center have been evacuated from Flat Creek Business Center and are meeting in Colter’s gym.
1:11 Update: The AmeriGas building in southwest Jackson exploded before 1 p.m. today, setting the adjacent gym, Bell Fitness, on fire, personal trainer Scott Edwards said.
Everyone at the gym is okay, Edwards said.
“I had to bust out a window to get everybody out but we’re all safe,” he said.
Vehicles in the parking lot are on fire.
Students at Jackson Hole High School are being held at the school.
1:04: Witnesses reported seeing explosions and a “huge ball of fire” by Smiths Food and Drug at about 12:45 p.m.
A column of smoke is now visible above southwest Jackson.
Law enforcement officials are advising people to stay away.
“They’re asking people to stay out of the Gregory Lane area,” Teton County Public Information Officer Charlotte Reynolds said.
Looks like it is just down from the Elk Country Inn where some of us stay and Bubba's BBQ, one of the Bears favorite BBQ place.