Local, federal authorities investigating hotel explosion - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Local, federal authorities investigating hotel explosion

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by Mindy Aguon

Guam - Local and federal authorities are working together to determine what caused an explosion in Tumon last night. "It was crazy we thought that the entire building was going to crumble down," said one woman.

"It was some kind of explosion I think it was a gas explosion I'm not exactly sure what type," another man said.  "I was in my room and I heard a loud bang," yet another recalled.  

It was a parade of lights federal and local investigators rolling into the Guam Hilton Resort and Spa after a report of an explosion that occurred at around 8:30pm, poolside near the Tree Bar area.

Immediately guests and employees were evacuated.

According to GPD spokesperson Liz Flickinger, the blast occurred during the tree bar's dinner show, which was packed with people. "FBI, Homeland, Civil Defense everybody else is here," she said.

Its estimated nearly three hundred guests were staying at the hotel at the time. Hilton Resort and Spa general manager Makoto "Earnie" Yasuhara said, "We wanted to do to secure the safety of the guests  safety of the employee so we follow the police and fire department guidance and suggestions we follow everything what we can do."

Guests were taken to nearby hotels until the all-clear was given just after 12:30am. Governor's spokesperson Troy Torres says a sweep by canine units turned up negative for traces of a bomb. "But the FBI, ATF, Guam Police, Guam Fire are all treating this as a crime scene until they confirm that it is not. So whether it was an accident or whether it was caused by somebody that is not known at this time."

Guam Fire Department spokesperson Lieutenant Ed Artero says three people received minor injuries and were taken from the incident to the Guam Memorial Hospital and released early this morning. A 32-year-old Japanese man who was in the hotel pool was hit in the head by an object thrown from the explosion.  A 38-year-old Caucasian man complained of dizziness from fumes, and a 22-year-old local woman was injured when she was shoved during the evacuation of the hotel and her injuries were not directly related to the blast.

This morning the Guam Fire Department took control of the scene as hotel staff cleaned up the debris in the area.

Firefighters were looking for the source of the explosion and actually entered an underground maintenance room near the koi pond adjacent to the tree bar.

KUAM News has been informed the room contains the gas lines that light up the tiki torches around the hotel property. It is being considered as a possible cause of the explosion, but officials were working to go through the debris and try to find the actual source.

There has been no evidence at this point that the explosion was a deliberate act.

Last night in the midst of leaving their rooms, some of the guests had reported hearing an explosion from one of the rooms. It was investigated and determined to be false.

Incident Commander Captain Joey Manibusan declined to comment as the matter remains under investigation and the findings have not yet been revealed. Acting Police Chief Colonel Maurice Sayama says local and federal authorities are working together to determine the cause of the recent blast. He adds it was a well executed operation with cooperation from local and federal partners. 

Sayama says the incident highlights the island's need to be vigilant, adding, "so we are always prepared for the worst needs to be tempered with a responsibility to not scare people."

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