Shrapnel from gas plant explosion goes through nearby family's roof

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TAVARES, Fla. —

Lots of Lake County residents were jolted awake by the propane plant explosion in Tavares overnight and more than 50 residents were evacuated moments later when emergency workers started pounding on doors, telling nearby families to get out.

Channel 9's Deneige Broom spoke to one family who returned home and saw the damage left behind from the explosions. The Welders, who live on 23 acres behind the plant, said their land is littered with burned propane canisters and their home damaged by shrapnel from the blast.

"It's scary," said Herb Welder. "You come out your door and see something like that."

"When we heard the blast, it sounded like cannons going off," said Diane Welder.

The plant was built in 2004 and even though the danger crossed their minds, the Welders said they never imagined anything crazy would happen.

"We kind of joked about it a little bit that if it ever went, you better hang on because it's going to blow everything up. (It) just about did last night," said Herb Welder. "If those big tanks went, nobody would be here right now."

Diane Welder said grabbed her pets and the family evacuated the home, getting as far away from the danger as possible.

"I was afraid we weren't going to come home to anything, we weren't going to have a home to come home to," said Diane Welder.

When she returned home, Diane Welder showed Channel 9 a hole in the family's roof where a piece of tank came through it. The property was also riddled with canisters that were blown at least 100 yards away from the plant.

Luckily, the Welders escaped without injury, but that can't be said for those who worked at the plant.

Several workers were injured, four critically.