SISSONVILLE, W.Va. -- Phyllis Spaulding was watching television in her Pocatalico apartment Tuesday afternoon when she felt the blast.
"I heard an explosion," she said. "It knocked me plumb off the couch into the floor."
What she felt was a gas line explosion that sparked a huge fire on both sides of Interstate 77 between Charleston and the Jackson County line.
Spaulding, whose apartment on Teresa Lane is within a mile of the explosion site, could see the flames from her home. She was one of the first to call 911 and report the explosion.
"They told me to evacuate," Spaulding said. "I grabbed my little dog and I was gone. It was awful."
Many residents in Sissonville, Pocatalico and surrounding areas told similar stories Tuesday afternoon, as emergency responders worked to put out the fire and make sure everyone was safe.
"You could hear a roar, just a constant noise, like an acetylene torch, only a whole lot louder, for about 15 minutes," said Douglas Johnson, an employee of the Top Spot restaurant who was helping unload a food truck outside the business Tuesday.
"All the customers and everybody behind the counter came outside to try to see what it was, but we really couldn't see anything," Johnson said. "The power surged a couple of times and then went out."
"It shook the ornaments off the tree and kept roaring -- you'd think it was the end of the world," said Rita Cummings, who lives at Pocatalico Village Apartments on Teresa Lane, within a half mile of the ruptured line.
"A woman who lives just down the road drove up, still wearing her pajamas, and asked to use the phone," Cummings said. "She said a plane had hit her home" causing it to catch fire.
"She was confused and panicked, but I could see how you would think that."
Before paramedics checked on residents, Robin Fields of Charleston said she was concerned for her best friend's husband, who lives in a trailer near the scene of the explosion.
Friends reported to her the trailer was completely destroyed in the explosion and resulting blaze. No one had heard from the man, she said.
Authorities later said everyone has been accounted for and that no one is dead or seriously injured.