Series of Explosions Sends Alice Business Owner to Burn Unit

An Alice business owner was sent to a San Antonio burn unit Monday morning after a series of explosions ripped through his place of business, starting a major fire.

It was just after 9 a.m. when the Alice Fire Department received reports of three explosions coming from Bobby's Automotive, located at the corner of Lucille Drive and North Texas Boulevard.

Alonzo Ayala of Ayala's Tire Shop, located next door to Bobby's Automotive, rushed to the scene shortly after the explosions and pulled the single victim out of the fire. He identified the victim as Bobby's Automotive owner Bobby Briones.

Briones was the only one at the automotive shop at the time of the explosion.

Briones was rushed to Christus Spohn Alice and was transferred via HALO Flight to the U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research Burn Center in San Antonio. His eyebrows were singed, he had blunt-force trauma to the abdomen and he suffered second- and third-degree burns to his legs and right arm.

At last report, Briones was in stable condition.

According to Alice Fire Marshal Patrick Thomas, firefighters determined that the source of the explosions were a 200 gallon tank of oil and a 55 gallon drum containing used petroleum products. The source of the third reported explosion has not been accounted for.

"We have some witnesses that tell us there was some sort of welding going on at the time, or some sort of hotwire going on," Thomas said. "I don't know whether or not he was welding exactly when the explosion went off, but that may have caused the explosion."

The explosion started a fire that damaged about 20- to 25-percent of the business, and spread to two vehicles in the parking lot.

Along with putting out the fire, crews with the Alice Fire Department were tasked with stopping oil runoff from flowing into the drainage system. Fire Department and City resources were used to successfully contain the runoff.

A nearby children's daycare center had to be evacuated for safety.


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